Vice Admiral William F. Raborn, Jr. had a major impact on modern U.S. Navy submarine operations.
He was born in Bromlow, Texas on 8 June 1905 and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1928.
He directed the Gunnery Training Section at the Bureau of Aeronautics during World War II and
later commanded the aircraft carriers USS BAIROKO (CVE-115) and our own ship the USS BENNINGTON (CVA-20).
Raborn was a Rear Admiral when he was appointed, on 8 November 1955, as Director of Special Projects Office
at the Bureau of Weapons. His task was to develop a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
He was appointed because of his ability and his reputation for getting along with people during stressful situations.
Raborn reported directly to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Arleigh Burke and the Secretary of
the Navy, Charles Thomas. Raborn was told that the new system had to achieve interim capability by
early 1963 and full capability by early 1965.
On Raborn’s recommendation, the U.S. Navy abandoned the idea of using the liquid-fueled Jupiter missile, then being jointly studied with the Army, in favor of the solid-fueled.
Under severe time pressure, Raborn skillfully managed the concurrent development of the various subsystems and technologies (missile, guidance systems, navigation, fire control and launcher). The Polaris A-1 missile was first test-fired from George Washington in 1960 - three years ahead of schedule.
The USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN-598), the first ballistic missile submarine, was commissioned on 30 December 1959 and fired its first test Polaris A-1 missile on 20 July 1960. It then departed on the Navy’s first deterrent patrol on 15 November 1960.
For his efforts, he received the Distinguished Service Medal and was appointed Vice Admiral. In 1962 he became the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Development. After his retirement from military service in 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him Director of the CIA on 12 April 1965. He served in that capacity from 4-28-1965 through 6-30-1966. Retired Vice Admiral William F. “Red” Raborn passed away on 14 March 1990.
During my search for information on this article, I came across “detailed” information on other subjects that he was involved with during his time at the CIA. Topics included items such as, The UFO Project, Majestic 12, The Assassination of President Kennedy and Vietnam issues, to name a few.
I also learned that he was the recipient of the Robert J. Collier Trophy (a prestigious American Aviation award) and that, the U.S. Naval Submarine Base at Kings Bay, Georgia, honored his name by the creation of RABORN HALL, a submarine training facility in his memory.
The information above has been provided by:
Joseph L. Pires
USS BENNINGTON HISTORIAN
"former" SK3 - Supply Department - S-1 Division -1965-1969