USS Lafayette (SSBN-616), the lead ship of her class of ballistic missile submarine, was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named to honor Marquis de Lafayette, a French military hero who fought with and significantly aided the American Army during the American Revolutionary War.
Her keel was laid down on 17 January 1961 by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched 8 May 1962, sponsored by First Lady of the United States Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of the 35th President of the United States, and commissioned 23 April 1963 at Groton, Connecticut, with Commander P. J. Hannifin in command of the Blue Crew and Commander James T. Strong in command of the Gold Crew.
After a shakedown in the Caribbean Sea, Lafayette loaded missiles at Charleston, South Carolina, and during June sailed to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for ballistic missile maneuvers. Four missiles were fired, two by each crew, after which the nuclear submarine steamed to Groton, Connecticut, arriving there 2 August. For the rest of the year her two crews alternately took her through a series of exercises before she took her place in the Navy├»┬┐┬Żs expanding Polaris Fleet.
Lafayette departed Charleston 4 January 1964 for her first deterrent patrol in the Atlantic. During the next four years, Lafayette made 16 deterrent patrols out of Rota, Spain. Her 15th patrol, the 400th of the Polaris submarine fleet, won Lafayette special commendation from Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze. She returned to Charleston from her 16th patrol on 23 August 1967. A week later, she arrived Newport News, Virginia, for a major overhaul by Newport News Shipbuilding to prepare for future service. On 28 December 1968, Lafayette├»┬┐┬Żs overhaul officially ended and in January 1969, she once again took up her position with the fleet.
Deactivated while still in commission on 1 March 1991, Lafayette was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on the following 12 August. She began the Navy├»┬┐┬Żs Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, Washington, the day she was stricken. On 25 February 1992, the ship no longer existed as an entity and was classed as scrapped.