In the post-war world, the potential of warships as a delivery system for hitherto unprecedented power developed. Part of the importance of air and later, sea, more specifi cally submarine, power lay in their role as delivery platforms for nuclear bombs and later, missiles. The American George Washington was the fi rst fl eet ballistic missile submarine, commissioned in late 1959 and firing the fi rst Polaris missile from under water in July 1960. George Washington and its four sister submarines were the proto-types of the first generation of American, British and French fleet ballistic missile submarines, with sixteen missiles in two rows in the central part of the hull. The Soviet Union, in contrast, originally built several smaller ballistic missile submarines with only a few missiles each in the turret, but they soon changed to the 16-missile configuration, ensuring a remarkable standardisation in type. The first British Polaris test missile was fired from a submarine in 1968, and the French commissioned their first ballistic missile submarine in 1969.
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