Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN-658)
The Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN-658), a nuclear powered ballistic missile
submarine was built on Mare Island Naval Shipyard and was named after
one of California’s first Soldier/ Statesmen, Mariano G. Vallejo, a colonel
in the Mexican army and the Commandante General of Mexico’s Northern Territory.
He was also a key advocate and played a significant role in obtaining
statehood for California in 1850 thus making it the 31st state of the
Union. It was through his efforts our city, which now bears his name,
served as the capital of California in 1851 and again in1853.
The contract that authorized the building of the Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN-658),
was awarded by the Navy on 8 August 1963 to Mare Island Naval Shipyard.
A keel laying ceremony took place the following year, 7 July 1964, on
Mare Island’s building ways 2 with construction beginning immediately
thereafter. After 15 months of around the clock work, the SSBN 658 was
launched on 23 October 1965 and became the fortieth member of the “Forty-One
for Freedom” submarine force. This force of 41 nuclear powered submarines
armed with long range ballistic missiles was being crafted to serve as
a deterrent against the threat of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.
Of the 41 boats that were constructed to make up this force, Mare Island
constructed seven of these great vessels starting with the USS Theodore
Roosevelt (SSBN 600), and ending with the USS Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN
Commissioned the following year, on 16 December 1966, the SSBN 658 began
conducting a series of shakedown and training exercises along the West
Coast of the United States, in the Caribbean Sea, and off the coast of
Florida. Upon completion of these exercises, she headed for her assigned
home port of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, passing through the Panama Canal before
arriving in Hawaii on 10 April 1967. During the next few months, she continued
training exercises and sound trials in the Pacific Ocean which included
a brief trip back to Mare Island Naval Shipyard before sailing back to
Pearl Harbor where she became a fully operational unit of Submarine Squadron
15 on 1 August 1967.
For the next twenty eight years, during the height of the cold war, the
USS Mariano G. Vallejo served as a major deterrent against a Nuclear War
with the Soviet Union. It was during that time that she carried out numerous
patrols, exercises and assignments, many of which were classified for
security reasons, before finally being both decommissioned and stricken
from the Naval Vessel Register on 9 March 1995. Shortly thereafter, with
the exception of her sail and a few of her components, she was unceremoniously
reduced to scrap metal via the Navy's Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine
Recycling Program conducted at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton,
WA near the end of 1995.
The Mare Island Historic Park Foundation Save Our Sail group has taken
on the task of raising money in order to fund the construction of a permanent
and fitting site for the sail of this historic submarine built with pride
on Mare Island. The location of the SSBN 658 Memorial Site will
be on Mare Island at the front South Entrance to the Mare Island Museum - within two hundred yards of the original
construction site of this historical piece of Naval history.