Marshall In 30 Objects Staff Pick: Object #28 USS George C. Marshall (SSBN-654)

USS George C. Marshall (SSBN-654)

I chose object #28, a large square chunk of metal that came from the hull of the USS George C. Marshall (SSBN-654), a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.  The Marshall Foundation procured this piece after the submarine was decommissioned on September 24, 1992 and sent to Bremerton, WA to be scrapped.  Until recently, I had no idea that there was a submarine named after George C. Marshall, but there was.  According to the submarine’s history:

Katherine Marshall christens the USS George C. Marshall submarine.

Katherine Marshall christens the USS George C. Marshall submarine. Photo: www.navsource.org

On February 19, 1964, the keel was laid, and construction commenced on Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company’s Hull 574.  On May 19, 1965, this sleek 425-foot, 8250-ton submarine was christened GEORGE C. MARSHALL, and slid down the builder’s ways at the gentle command her sponsor, Mrs. George C. Marshall.  On this occasion, General Marshall’s Alma Mater, Virginia Military Institute, honored one her most famous sons by sending a cadet color guard, and his old friend and successor as Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, was principal speaker.[1]

On April 29,1966, the Navy accepted their latest sub, GEORGE C. MARSHALL in a commissioning ceremony at Newport News, Virginia, exactly 5 years, 7 months, and 5 days after George C. Marshall died.  I know he would have smiled when Mrs. Marshall declared “This is MY ship!” as she smashed the ceremonial bottle of champagne on the hull, “giving her husband’s nuclear namesake, George C. Marshall (SSBN-654) something to drink” before it launched and sailed into history.[2]

The Marshall Foundation is fortunate to have several other items from the submarine that were donated by Mrs. Marshall and former crewmembers which include flags, patches, a model of the submarine, dedication plaques, a floor mat, and a crewmember welcome kit.  However, the small ingot displayed in the Marshall in 30 Objects exhibit struck me as most noble and a fitting reminder of the strength of this submarine’s hull and the inner strength of her namesake, George C. Marshall.

[1] From the 15-page “Welcome Aboard” pamphlet for the George C. Marshall, page 11-12.

[2] https://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08654.htm

 

USS George C. Marshall submarine

USS George C. Marshall submarine

 

USS George C. Marshall submarine

USS George C. Marshall submarine

 

John Wranek is the Director of Development and Communications at the George C. Marshall Foundation.  He joined the staff in November 2018 following 12 years with the VMI Alumni Agencies.  In addition, John retired from the Army National Guard in 2015 as a Colonel after 29 years of service with two overseas deployments.