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6650 tons Surfaced
8250 tons Submerged

Length: 425 Feet
Beam: 33 Feet
Speed: 16k Surfaced
22k Submerged
Armament: 16 Poseidon (C-3) Missiles
4x21" Torpedo Tubes Forward
Complement: 13 Officers
122 Enlisted Men (each in 2 crews)
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Co.

Keel Laid:

December 3, 1962


December 20, 1963

Maiden Voyage: November 1, 1964


December 2, 1964


August 28, 1989

Present Status:

Converted to dockside trainer and
reclassied as Floating Equipment, MTS-635,
serving as S5W Prototype,

USS SAM RAYBURN (SSBN 635) was the 50th nuclear powered submarine and 28th fleet ballistic submarine to enter service as an essential element of America’s powerful nuclear deterrent force.

Constructed by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, her keel was laid on 3 December 1962. She was launched on 20 December 1963 by cosponsors Mrs. S. E. Bartly and Mrs. W. A. Thomas, sisters of the late Mr. Rayburn. Commissioning occurred twelve months later on 2 December 1964 with the Under Secretary of the Navy, Paul B. Fry as the principle speaker. President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke via the telephone in honor of his fellow Texan.

The ship was named for one of the nation’s foremost legislators and parliamentary technicians, Samuel Talisferro Rayburn (1882-1961). "Mr. Sam" as he was known by the entire nation, served in the House of Representatives for over 48 years and was Speaker of the House more than twice as long as any other predecessor. President Johnson said at the keel laying ceremony "It is fitting that this vessel should bear the proud name selected for it ....... Sam Rayburn gave his life to the cause of protecting our freedoms and because he and men like him did so, we are strong and at peace today."

Upon commissioning, Captain Oliver H. Perry, USN, Prospective Commanding Officer during the construction phase became Commanding Officer, Blue Crew while Lieutenant Commander W. A. Williams, II, USN assumed command of the Gold Crew. Following sea trials and Shakedown at the Atlantic Missile Range while assigned to Submarine Squadron EIGHTEEN, and Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) at Newport News she was deployed to Rota, Spain.

Now part of Submarine Squadron SIXTEEN she began her first patrol in mid 1965. Upon completion of the seventh patrol, by the Blue Crew in December 1966, she once again reported to Submarine Squadron EIGHTEEN in Charleston from were she was to complete patrols eight through eighteen. In February 1969 RAYBURN conducted its first R & R port visit, arriving at Port Canaveral, while in an operating cycle. In June 1969, the Blue and Gold Crews lined the deck topside to become the first FBM Crews to receive the Polaris Patrol Pin. Rear Admiral J. B. Osburn, Commander Submarine Flotilla SIX, who commanded USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598) on its first deterrent patrol in 1960 conducted the presentation.

RAYBURN arrived at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine on 1 December 1969 for her first overhaul which included reactor refueling and conversion to the POSEIDON missile system. Commander J. B. Orzalli, USN assumed command of the combined Blue and Gold Crews for the duration of the overhaul which completed 3 September 1971. Commander Orzalli then assumed command of the Blue Crew and Commander J. W. McKinster assumed command of the Gold Crew.

After completion of Shakedown and PSA, RAYBURN was assigned to Submarine Squadron FOURTEEN at Holy Loch, Scotland from where she conducted deterrent patrols nineteen through thirty-nine. Following an upkeep at Rota, Spain, RAYBURN conducted a "half patrol" that included a port visit at Lisbon, Portugal, one of the first "Flex-ops" for SSBN’s. During this period she received the Submarine Squadron FOURTEEN Battle Efficiency "E" and the Supply Blue "E" for fiscal year 1977 and the Squadron Food Service Award for 1977 and 1978.

On 26 January 1978, RAYBURN arrived again at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for a non-refueling overhaul under the command of Commander T. F. Bailey, USN. This overhaul was completed on 15 October 1979, with Commander Bailey assuming command of the Blue Crew and Commander W. S. Hendrick, USN assuming command of the Gold Crew.

The early part of 1980 included DASO operations, missile loadout and port visits to Roosevelt Roads, St. Thomas and St. Croix. In May 1980, RAYBURN underwent a refit at Kings Bay, Georgia which was followed by conducting Midshipmen training until August. She then commenced regular deterrent patrols, once again returning to Submarine Squadron FOURTEEN. The first post-overhaul patrol, which was the initial ESGM (Electro Static Gyro Navigation) patrol, included a port visit at Lisbon.

During a subsequent patrol, RAYBURN crossed the Arctic Circle to become the first SSBN to surface through the ice as part of a special test arranged by COMSUBLANT. Damage received during this test resulted in post patrol dry-docking in Holy Loch. Other port visits were accomplished at Rotterdam, Netherlands, Portsmouth, England and Faslane, Scotland. RAYBURN departed Holy Loch in February 1985 on patrol with the Blue Crew embarked, arriving in Kings Bay, Georgia for turnover. Upon completion of the sixtieth patrol by the Gold Crew, RAYBURN arrived in New London, Connecticut where the crews were combined in anticipation of a Refueling Overhaul under the command of Captain J. Beall, USN.

On 10 June 1985, it was announced by the White House that the United States would dismantle a ballistic missile submarine to remain within the SALT II ceiling on MIRVed missiles. RAYBURN, now under the command of CDR G. D. Lattig, USN was selected to fulfill this requirement and was deactivated on 16 September 1985, after more than twenty years of service, with missile tubes filled with concrete and tube hatches removed. She subsequently underwent concurrent availabilities at Charleston Naval Shipyard for missile dismantlement and refueling/conversion to a Moored Training Ship (MTS) to train personnel in the Nuclear Power Program.

The MTS Project had been approved in February of 1984 without the selection of a particular hull. RAYBURN was now available for this project thus preventing total scrapping. The dismantlement and conversion required removal of the majority of the missile compartment, ripout and modification of the operations compartment to hold office and training space, installation of a second diesel generator and special mooring arrangements including a mechanism to absorb power generated by the main propulsion shaft. The first training class reported on 10 July 1989 and official decommissioning of the ship took place shortly thereafter on 28 August 1989.

NOTE: This history of the USS SAM RAYBURN (SSBN 635) was compiled by LCDR Thomas E. Pauls, USN, Retired. Information and comments were provided by several organizations including The Submarine Force Museum and the Naval Historical Center. Numerous individuals also provided assistance either through E-mail or document review. Comments or recommendations concerning additions, deletions or editing of information on the history of USS SAM RAYBURN (SSBN 635) or MTS 635 should be submitted to