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Alternate History

USS Benjamin Franklin (1983: Doomsday)

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ANZC Benjamin Franklin, formerly USS Benjamin Franklin

USS Benjamin Franklin (SSBN-640)

ANZC Benjamin Franklin, old US Navy picture

Pre - Doomsday

USS Benjamin Franklin (SSBN 640), the lead ship of her class of ballistic missile submarine, was the only submarine of the United States Navy to be named for Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), the American journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, abolitionist, public servant, scientist, librarian, diplomat, and inventor. Five other ships in the United States Navy have been named for Benjamin Franklin.

Her keel was laid down on 25 May 1963. Ship naming and launched on 5 December 1964

On 6 December 1965 the Crew successfully launched a Polaris A-3 missile in close coordination with an orbital pass of the Gemini 7 astronauts.

Doomsday

Reaction

1985: In the safe harbor

On November 6th, the USS "Benjamin Franklin" (SSBN-640) becomes the already fifth American nuclear submarine to arrive in ANZUS territory so far. Nearly running out of food, the “Franklin” enters the harbor of Cairns.

1991: Rediscovery Pioneer

The USS "Benjamin Franklin" is re-fitted by the Royal Australian Navy and sent on a worldwide intelligence gathering mission. Her empty missile silos are filled with food, enough to last sixteen-to-eighteen months. Besides, the captain receives full diplomatic mandate to contact any remaining nation-like governments, except “apparent illegitimate dictatorship”. She heads out, returning to Cairns in August 1992.

  • First destination is the old U.S. from where she confirms the regular reports from the U.S. bases on Hawaii: The situation in the continental United States is "medieval". A few towns and villages have formed themselves into barricaded sanctions, fighting off marauding ex-Army and ex-police units, scavenging for food, water and ammunition. The estimated population of the contiguous US is guessed at less than 10 million. A Royal Australian Air Force pilot who volunteered to join the "Franklin" crew, found an intact Beechcraft airplane near Tillamook, Oregon and flew several hundred miles inland. He reports reaching a vast desert as he approached the old Idaho/Nevada border. Radiation levels were minimal, but the area seemed devoid of plant and animal life. He returned and reboarded the "Franklin" as it headed down along the West Coast.
  • Second destination: After a hard passage to a bombed and nearly unusable Panama Channel the Franklin approaches Continental Europe. A big surprise to the crew is received radio messages from Azores, Celtic Alliance, Pais del Oro, the Nordic Union and Canada Remainder Provinces. They respond and contact the respective governments which have been equally surprised as news from the Southern Hemisphere have not been reached except from a few amateur radio messages from Brazil and South America. The Franklin crew makes official visits to both governments. The Portuguese Submarine “Albacora” is assigned to accompany the “Franklin” until the Suez Canal is reached.
  • The third destination, Continental Europe and the Soviet Union seems as worse as the U.S. Dust and windstorms prevent aerial reconnaissance but the land seems devastated. Ice cap measurements in the Arctic are unusually thin, and apparently global warming (due to the drop in plant life and rise in CO2) is occurring.
  • Afterwards (Return Journey) – the “Albacora” leaving upon arrival at the Suez Channel- a visit to China, Japan, and much of Asia shows everything to be as "medieval" as the United States; save the Islamic survivor states in Indonesia. Contact, however, is made with the Japanese survivors of the Bonin Islands; having lost contact with the main islands for nearly a decade. The "Franklin" crew narrowly escapes when it is attacked in Okinawa by islanders who (from observation) have become cannibals. It was on the voyage back to Cairns, however, that the first "unconfirmed" transmissions from the Philippines were received; suggesting the survival of functioning authority in the region.

1995: New Commands

With the end of the United States in 1995 and the subsequent restructuring of the ANZC Navy, the U.S.S. Benjamin Franklin becomes the lead ship of the new "Global Observer" submarine class ships, comprising all remaining US and NATO nuclear-powered submarines, serving to monitor the worldwide development after Doomsday. The five submarines are all heavily armed to survive.

1999: End of a lifetime

The Benjamin Franklin, after 14 years of valuable service pioneering the post-Doomsday reconnaissance missions, is finally decommissioned off active duty on November 6th. She has since been relocated to the Harbor of Cairns, and serves as a floating museum, occasionally taking school classes on harbor dives organized by the WCRB Military History Institute.

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