Sam Rayburn Museum exhibits items from USS Sam Rayburn collection
By Emma Trent, Program Coordinator, Sam Rayburn Museum
Dec 14, 2023
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Bonham, Texas -- The Sam Rayburn Museum, a division of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, proudly presents Honoring Their Service, an exhibition of items from the newly created USS Sam Rayburn collection. The exhibit will be on display at the Sam Rayburn Museum beginning Wednesday, December 13, and continuing through Saturday, March 16, 2024.

USS Sam Rayburn, off the east coast of the U.S., probably while on sea trials, circa 1964. U.S. Navy photograph

The USS Sam Rayburn was a fleet ballistic missile submarine in commission from December 2, 1964, to July 31, 1989. Built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and sponsored by Speaker Rayburnís sisters, Meddie Bartley and Katy Thomas, the Sam Rayburn launched on December 20, 1963. It was almost a year later before the ship was commissioned, with Captain Oliver H. Perry Jr. in command of the Blue Crew and Commander William A. Williams in command of the Gold Crew.

The keel of the Sam Rayburn is swung into place. photo by Dale Hargrave

Mrs. Meddie Bartley, right, breaks a bottle of champagne, during the christening of the USS Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635). photo by Dale Hargrave

In June 1985, the U.S. Navy announced the Sam Rayburn would be dismantled in order to be compliant with the SALT II strategic arms limitations treaty. The missile compartment was dismantled, and the remaining pieces of the ship were welded together. The USS Sam Rayburn was decommissioned and struck from the Naval
Vessel Register in July 1989 and reclassified as a moored training ship.

After deactivation, the shipís anchor and swivel shot of chain were loaned to the Sam Rayburn Museum to be displayed on the grounds. The navy donated other items
associated with the submarine to the museumís collection. Soon after, former Sam Rayburn crew members started donating items from their service on the ship. As the number of submarine artifacts grew, the decision was made to create the USS Sam Rayburn Collection in order to preserve the legacy of those who served on the submarine during her twenty years of service.

Scale model of the USS Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) - Sam Rayburn Collection

The Rayburn Museum is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Sam Rayburn Museum Facebook page, call the Sam Rayburn Museum at 903-583-2455 or email rayburn@austin.utexas.edu.