U.S. NAVY SSBN DETERRENT PATROL BADGE

With the development of submarine-launched ballistic missiles in the 1950s, the United States Navy became the third component of the United States “nuclear triad” and an essential element of the concept of “Mutually Assured Destruction,” or MAD. Heretofore, submarine patrols or missions were tasked with such goals as reconnaissance and mapping, resupply, rescue, or tactical combat. But the ability to deliver nuclear warhead undetected from the depths of the ocean gave the Navy’s Silent Service a new capability: Deterrence.

To recognize this new type of mission, the U.S. Navy created the SSBN (Ship, Submersible, Nuclear, Ballistic) Deterrence Patrol breast insignia to augment the Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia. The new pin was authorized for wear by regularly assigned crewmembers of SSBNs who had completed one or more patrol, even if they have not yet earned their Submarine qualifications.

Following the insignia’s approval, it was awarded retroactively to the crewmembers of the USS George Washington, which completed its first patrol armed with 16 nuclear-tipped Polaris missiles on January 21, 1960. In 2004, the decision was made to award the insignia to Navy personnel who had served aboard the USS Tunny, a modified World War II-era submarine capable of launching the Regulus cruise missile. The Tunny conducted the first launch of a Regulus nearly seven years before the George Washington completed its patrol.

The pin’s design features the side-view of a Lafayette-class SSBN with a Polaris missile in the middle being circled by the symbols of three electron orbits to indicate nuclear capabilities. A scroll at the bottom of the pin is used to accommodate silver or gold stars; each gold star indicates completion of one patrol, and a silver star is awarded for every five patrols. Because the initial silver pin indicates one patrol, a silver star is not awarded until completion of the sixth patrol. The silver pin is replaced with a gold one upon completion of twenty successful deterrent missions.
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