USS Bancroft

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USS BANCROFT (SSBN 643) Sail Exhibit
Memorial Available for Public

Other U.S. military bases may have tanks or aircraft at their front gates, but Kings Bay has a submarine greeting visitors at the entrance to the 16,000-acre naval base located in southeast Georgia.

Rising from a sea of green grass at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay Franklin Gate is the USS GEORGE BANCROFT Sail Exhibit, a display commemorating 100 years of the Navy’s submarine program.

USS GEORGE BANCROFT (SSBN 643), commissioned January 22, 1966, in Groton, Connecticut, served in the Navy’s submarine service for more than 27 years. With the advent of the Ohio-class submarines and the end of the Cold War, the older Franklin-class submarines were no longer needed and BANCROFT was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list September 21, 1993. BANCROFT ended up in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington for scrapping and recycling in March 1998. BANCROFT would not go away easily.

Alerted to its imminent destruction, a grassroots effort on the part of St. Marys Submarine Museum, a local submarine veterans organization, former BANCROFT crew members and local businesses raised the necessary funding to bring the submarine’s sail to Kings Bay and to construct the exhibit.

Saved from the recycling bin, the sail was brought to Kings Bay in 1998 for use in an exhibit honoring the U.S. Navy’s submarine service centennial.

From October 1999 to March 2000, members of Construction Battalion Unit 412 cleared and grubbed 500 tons of soil and trees to construct the footings, foundation, and lighting necessary for the exhibit. The Seabees molded the earth to resemble a submarine hull, allowing a contractor to then spray the earthen hull with a thick coat of black gunite.

The display readied for dedication on April 7, 2000, became the centerpiece for Kings Bay’s celebration of the submarine forces 100th anniversary. Over 2,000 people from the local area and across the country joined the dedication as BANCROFT, one of the “41 for Freedom,” came alive once again.

The BANCROFT Sail Exhibit is located directly in front of the main entrance to the base at the intersection of St. Marys Road and Georgia State Highway Spur 40. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Parking: Please park in the Pass and ID parking lot at the Franklin Gate. Always be safe and monitor children.

Group Use: Groups or organizations wishing to use the exhibit for ceremonies or any other public gatherings must contact the public affairs office at 912-573-4714 or submit a request by E-mail to cnisekngspao@navy.mil.

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Public May Visit the Exhibit

The USS BANCROFT (SSBN 643) Memorial, located by the Franklin Gate (junction of Georgia State Highway Spur 40 and St. Marys Road), is available for viewing by the general public. Please park in the Pass and ID parking lot. Keep safety in mind and always monitor children.

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