1956| Part 2, Footage of USS George Washington Sub (SSBN-598), missing part at beginning

“The George Washington class was a class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines deployed by the United States Navy. George Washington, along with the later Ethan Allen, Lafayette, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin classes, comprised the “41 for Freedom” group of submarines that represented the Navy’s main contribution to the nuclear deterrent force through the late 1980s.”

This 1960 black and white installment of “See It Now” produced and edited by Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly (Part 2 of 2) presents a behind-the-scenes overview of initial testing for the UGM-27 Polaris missile, a two-stage solid-fueled nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missile, the United States Navy’s first SLBM (TRT: 26:58).

The USS George Washington (SSBN-598) ballistic missile submarine surfaces (0:08). One of the submarine’s missile hatches opens. A Polaris missile is suspended above the submarine for loading (0:22). Stenciling on the hull of the George Washington (1:01). Hatches close (1:16). Admiral William Raborn and Murrow inside “Sherwood Forest,” the corridor of missile tubes inside the submarine. Raborn speaks on the success of the missile program, justifying the costs of the $100 million submarine (1:32). The interview continues, focusing on the Ship’s Inertial Navigation Subsystem (SINS) (5:04). Naval personnel stand atop a submarine. Murrow addresses the camera with a model of a Polaris missile in the foreground (7:06). The USNS Observation Island (T-AGM-23) launches a Polaris missile in slow motion, showing a failure (7:34). Sailors detach mooring lines from a bollard. The USS George Washington (8:32). The submarine’s crew, and the Observation Island’s crew charting a course (8:55). A radar tracking antennae is visible in the foreground, with the Observation Island in the background, both on the open sea (9:30). A button is pressed: “Fire.” A switch is flipped: “Muzzle Hatch Open.” A smoke signal for surface observers (10:02). A final countdown is interrupted in its final seconds. An announcement “The George Washington will not fire today” (11:03). Days later, another countdown (12:38). A successful Polaris launch. “Missile away” (13:19). The first stage of the missile separates, showing divergent contrails (14:20). Admiral Raborn celebrates and makes an announcement on a radio microphone (15:03). A second Polaris missile launches successfully (16:15). A broom is raised on the periscope of the George Washington, signifying a “clean sweep” (16:49). Admiral Arleigh Burke speaks in an interview with Murrow before a model of the submarine. Murrow presses him on the missile’s lack of a “fail safe” system, possible cases of madness (17:02). The interview continues. Murrow asks about “faulty communication,” and the possibility of NATO nations adopting Polaris (19:36). Murrow asks if the Polaris missile makes us “less liable to blackmail” and if we have any secure, fixed base locations (21:30). A nuclear submarine at sea submerges (23:12). Murrow speaks in closeup, summarizing the program. “Good night, and good luck” (24:11). Title: “This film is a reproduction of the “See It Now” program of October 11, 1960 as broadcast on C.B.S. Television Network” (25:54).

“See It Now” was a newsmagazine documentary series broadcast by CBS from 1951 to 1958, created by Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly, with Murrow serving as the show’s host From 1952 to 1957, “See It Now” won four Emmy Awards and was nominated three additional times.

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