USS Tecumesh

Submarine Highlight- The USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628)

The USS Tecumseh was a James Madison- class ballistic missile. Built by Electric Boat in 1962, she was commissioned in May of 1964. Her crews would complete 21 patrols within her first five years in commission. Originally, SSBN- 628 was named William Penn but was renamed on April 11, 1962. Her new name would be to honor a Shawnee Indian chief- Tecumseh

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Tecumseh was a renowned warrior who devoted his life to preserving his tribe and protecting them from the advancement of white settlers. He believe that land in North America, especially the Ohio Valley belonged to its tribal ancestors, thus finding that any sale of territory to be invalid.  Fighting for the British in the War of 1812, Tecumseh would die at the Battle of the Thames in 1813. Circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear with multiple stories and multiple people claiming to have taken the Shawnee chiefs life.  Tecumseh’s life long goal was to keep tribal lands with their rightful owners. He promoted tribal unity and believed that the land belonged to them collectively.  After his death, the remaining land east of the Mississippi River would be ceded to the U.S. government giving up any hope of retaining control of the Old Northwest Territory. His dream of a pan-Indian confederation would not be realized until 1944. After his death, Tecumseh took on folk status. A statue of the Shawnee chief stands today at the United States Naval Academy.  It is said that if a midshipmen is looking for luck, they will provide an offering of pennies to Tecumseh while not stepping on the USNA seal, which Tecumseh’s stature guards. It is said that

Statue of Tecumseh at the United States Naval Academy

The original wooden figure was salvaged from the ship-of-the-line Delaware, which was sunk Union forces in 1861 at the Norfolk Navy Yard to prevent her falling into Confederate hands. Brought to the Naval Academy in 1866, the figurehead was intended to portray Tamanend, the revered Delaware chief who welcomed William Penn to America when he arrived in Delaware territory in 1682.When the wooden bust arrived, midshipmen widely referred to the statue as several other names, such as Powhatan, King Phillip and finally Tecumseh, in reference to the brave and skillful Shawnee warrior.[1]

After being decommissioned in 1993, Tecumseh had her two starboard torpedo tubes transferred to the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum for installation in there torpedo exhibit. As a James Madison- class sub, she held four Mark 65 torpedo tubes. Most weapons are usually launched hydraulically but the Mark 65 had a swim out capability that allowed a weapon to leave the tube under its own power.

The insignia for SSBN-628 was adopted in 1963. According to Naval History and Heritage Command:

Its design ties the life of Tecumseh with the mission of the ship that bears his name. The insignia’s background is in the shape of an Indian arrowhead, and also represents the United States Shield. The panther symbolizes one translation of the name Tecumseh: “Crouching Panther.” The crossed Polaris and Indian items are placed in the shape of the British Union Jack, while the Fleur-De-Lis Represents France. Both nations had great influence on the Northern Indians and are present day allies of the United States. The motto stands for both Tecumseh’s attempts to unite the tribes against the white setters, and the unity of NATO today.[1]

[1] https://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/numerical-list-of-images/nhhc-series/nh-series/NH-65000/NH-65727-KN.html

[1] http://usnhistory.navylive.dodlive.mil/2016/08/26/annapoliss-relics-of-luck/

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