USS Daniel Boone, Charleston, SC

SSBN629-43

USS Daniel Boone, Charleston, SC
7/10/1993

David Cantrell

USS Daniel Boone Memories

Submit your Daniel Boone memories here.

Poseidon launch after retrofit Newport News from A3: James Madison and Boone were first to convert. We launched 3 Poseidons. 1/3rd of the crew rode to Observation Island and got to see the launch....Admiral Douglas rode with us and said over the 1MC "Men, I cannot tell you how close to the target we were in the south African Range, but there is an old southern saying, right in the old pickle barrel."
Mike Brookins
Secretary of State Kissinger got daily briefings on our SSBN in 1970's.
Jim Guth
There were 3 Sandifers on the Boone in the 70s. The three brothers were myself and my brother Huey Sandifer ET2SS. He was a Nav ET already on the Boone when I got brother duty. My brother Ken Sandifer MM1SS, came on just as I was leaving.
Van Sandifer, MM1(SS), Sept 72 to Sept 79
John and Bill Cockerham were brothers that served on the USS Daniel Boone on Blue Crew around 1975.
Barbi Finley
As I ponder how to start a page on memories, I ask myself, "What isn't memorable about being on a 8,000 ton machine designed to sink and carry massive fire power?" The first time I saw the Daniel Boone, she was in a floating dry dock in the middle of the Cooper River at the Weapons Station in North Charleston, SC. We visited Halifax, Nova Scotia during the first patrol. The pilot that boarded was quite skilled. Our navigating party's effectiveness was limited by heavy fog and inexperience with the channel. He used the ship's horn reflecting sound off the hill in front to decide when to turn into the harbor. We visited Port Canaveral for a mini-DASO, completed sound trials, and conducted a torpedo firing at the Autec Range. During the transit to Bangor, WA for decommissioning, port calls were made in Puerto Rico and Fort Lauderdale, the Panama Canal and the equator were crossed, with a final stop in San Diego.

There were many memorable engineering plant events that cannot be discussed. I will just say that the Boone's nuclear reactor operations were second to none. The best throttleman execution of an "All Ahead Flank" bell that I witnessed was by EM2 Richard Baltierra. Even the ORSE board Captain was impressed. Standing ready for the "All Back Emergency" Bell while in the Panama Canal Locks was a nail-biting experience as well.

Miscellaneous memories include: rack burn, family grams, pizza night, emergency blow of ballast tanks, lobster, ice cream machine, bug juice, and acronyms for everything.

The last surface was before entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The last missile was removed at Bangor. We traveled around Puget Sound to Bremerton, the last time the Boone would be underway on her own power. While pier-side at Bremerton, a shipyard worker severed the hull in the ballast tank while preparing the guard rails for dry dock. The starboard aft end of the ship began to sink. The water came close to entering the engine room hatch where the shore power cables were rigged. I don't recall who noticed it first. CDR Hanson was topside in short order and took immediate action. The ship was steadied with the low pressure blower or a normal blow. A-Division saved the day by installing a temporary cone-shaped wooden plug. The 24 hour "plug watch" sat in a chair under a tarp with a light to alert us if the patch were to suddenly dislodge. Their extraordinary efforts are remembered and appreciated.

The Start I treaty was signed on 31 July 1991. We had to be in dry dock with the missile tubes open so the Russian satellites could verify the reduction in missile launchers. On November 4, 1993, the USS Daniel Boone entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Dry Dock #4 with the USS Casimir Pulaski, USS Greenling, and USS John C. Calhoun. The Calhoun had been launched at Newport News on the same day back on Jun 22, 1963. Four boomers fit in a dry dock designed for an aircraft carrier. We were the first boat to test the shipyard's accelerated decommissioning procedures and spent hours double-checking sequence and piping/electrical tag-outs.

From there the lasts seem to multiply. Equipment was shutdown, tagged out, and turned over to the shipyard for dismantling. The non-nuclear systems went quickly and forward crew members began departing for their next duty station. I loved the engineering equipment sounds and fury of activity as the engine room was brought to life. Shutting it all down forever was hard. Fuel rod removal required more stringent parameters and so the "nukes" remained at their posts until the end. I saw signatures of crew members past in the most obscure places as the parts of the ship were stripped away. The Daniel Boone surplus store was open. Maintenance crews began cannibalizing items for other operational boats or hard to find spares. Museums asked for items for their collections. It was rumored that several cities wanted the Daniel Boone for their waterfront too. One of the photos on the site is the Ballast Control Panel that was moved to the Bowfin Museum in Pearl Harbor. The Engineering Duty Officer and Chief slept on the boat until nearly the last day. The officer staterooms housing the bunks were one of the few remaining items on Ops Middle Level. It was tradition to have a chain with the number of links matching the number of days. I admit, I had one too.

February 18th, 1994 was a cold, dreary day for the decommissioning ceremony. The crew assembled on the dry dock basin. An Admiral spoke as did CDR Hanson. Good-byes were said and the crew disbanded. After climbing the hill behind the dry dock headed to the car, I took one last look at the boat in dry dock.

My story of the submarine known as the USS Daniel Boone would not be complete without one last memory. COMBSUBLANT initiated Weapon's System Readiness Tests (WSRT) to evaluate the command periodically. It was during these tests, I witnessed the true capabilities of the ship and crew. The Radio Room was our ear to the ground and alerted Control when incoming flash traffic was received. The "Crimson Tide" movie provided a decent representation of the message authentication process. When declared valid, crew members made their way to the designated watch stations while the boat was taken to launch depth. Sound-powered phones were donned, valves aligned, switches positioned, keys inserted, indicators watched, and procedures checked as the ship neared the imminent countdown. All aspects of the missile launch were conducted with the exception of opening the missile hatch and firing initiation. The one word that describes these evolutions is "outstanding." My family was onboard for the Tiger Cruise in July, 1993. They experienced a dive, angles and dangles, simulated torpedo and missile launches, and a surface. They marveled at the COB's response to the Captain's inquiry of where one of the crew was: 'Where do you want him to be sir?" Submariners got the job done.

I am proud to have served on the USS Daniel Boone with her dedicated crew and traveled approximately 25,000 nautical miles underway. The fact that this warship lasted 30 years is evidence of the dedication and capabilities of every crew member that was assigned to the SSBN-629. By demonstrating successful missile launches on at least ten occasions and conducting 75 patrols, the Daniel Boone succeeded in her primary mission: Deterrence.
David Cantrell, LT/(SS), DCA, 1994