A press release from Lockheed-Martin celebrating a historic event.

Fleet Ballistic Missile force completes 3,500th deterrent patrol.

BANGOR, Wash., May 25, 2001 -- With the successful return to Bangor, Wash. of the USS Florida, SSBN 728, from operational patrol, the U.S. Navy strategic submarine force has completed 3,500 deterrent patrols, carrying Fleet Ballistic Missiles (FBM) built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Missiles & Space Operations, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

"For more than 40 years, FBM submarines have silently patrolled the waters of the world hidden from potential adversaries by an oceanic curtain," said Tom Morton, vice president, strategic missile programs for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Missiles & Space Operations. "Lockheed Martin is extremely proud of the role its missiles and support services have played in carrying out the critical mission of the strategic submarine force. No strategic deterrent patrol has ever been aborted for a deficiency in weapon system operational readiness."

The first of the 3,500 FBM patrols dates back to November 15, 1960 when the USS George Washington, SSBN 598, deployed on her first operational mission carrying 16 Polaris A1 missiles. In more than four decades of continuous deterrent operations since that milestone, there have been 1,245 Polaris patrols, 1,182 Poseidon patrols, 826 Trident I patrols, and 247 Trident II patrols. If you added up all the time on patrol by these strategic submarines, it would amount to a total of some 245,000-mission days or some 671 years of combined service.

The Fleet Ballistic Missile force is the preeminent deterrent in our nation's triad of land and sea-based strategic nuclear forces. With almost unlimited cruising range and endurance only limited by the crew, FBM submarines are capable of extended submerged operations. Free from the need to surface, FBM submarines remain hidden, their exact locations unknown to anyone but the crew and its commander. Mobile, hidden and always ready, the FBM force provides the U.S. and its allies with a credible, survivable and enduring deterrent against aggression.

The Navy selected Lockheed Martin Space Systems operations in Sunnyvale, Calif. as its prime missile contractor and missile system manager in 1955. Since then, the Lockheed Martin team has designed, developed, produced and supported six successive generations of FBM- Polaris (A1), Polaris (A2), Polaris (A3), Poseidon (C3), Trident I (C4) and Trident II (D5).

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, Colo., is one of the major operating units of the world's largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT). Space Systems is a global leader in the design, development, test and production of space launch systems, ground systems, scientific spacecraft, satellites for commercial and government customers, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.

Forty plus years of service, and never being used, which of course is their mission. By staying hidden they make the enemy think twice about attacking the United States with weapons of mass destruction. I made four of those Trident I patrols, and am proud of that to this day. It's hard for some to believe, but we would have considered the need to launch as a failure to convince an enemy of our purpose and conviction.

I give my brethren of the USS Florida the toast we long used and well believe, "Here's to our birds, may they rust in peace".

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