USS Ohio Successfully Completes Sea Trials

Friday, December 23, 2005
The USS Ohio (SSGN 726), the Navy's first modern guided missile submarine, took a significant step towards rejoining the fleet on Dec. 19, when it arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Wash., with a broom atop its sail to signify a clean sweep of its initial sea trials.

The Ohio's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Michael Cockey, expressed satisfaction with the ship's performance and noted its great potential. "It's great to be completing an arduous overhaul and conversion period and moving on to demonstrating the tremendous capability this ship brings to the fleet. The Ohio crew will be pioneers in tactics and employment of this amazing class of ships."

"SSGNs will provide us with one of the most capable and versatile strike options in the Navy," said Rear. Adm. William Hilarides, Program Executive Officer for Submarines. "We are eager to have Ohio and her sister ships rejoin the Fleet."

Ohio is the first of four fleet ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to be converted into SSGNs. The three other submarines undergoing the SSGN conversion process, the USS Michigan (SSGN 727), USS Florida (SSGN 728), and USS Georgia (SSGN 729), are all slated to rejoin the fleet by 2007. Prior to the conversion process, each boat unloaded its complement of Trident Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles. Twenty-two of the 24 missile tubes on each boat are being retrofitted to carry up to seven Tomahawk cruise missiles, for a maximum load of 154 missiles per boat.

The remaining two tubes are being converted into Special Operations Forces (SOF) lock-in/lock-out chambers. Each SSGN will be able to carry and support up to 66 SOF operators for an extended period of time. These ships will have a specialized planning area, physical fitness equipment and laser shooting ranges for use by the operators. Further, SSGNs will be able to carry two Advanced SEAL Delivery Systems, two dry deck shelters, or one of each using the lock-in/lock-out chambers as their docking sites.

"The ability to carry a large Special Operations Force, coupled with its Tomahawk strike capability and inherent stealth characteristics make SSGN a unique and powerful platform for combatant commanders to carry out a variety of missions," said Capt. David Norris, SSGN Program Manager (PMS 398). In addition to the strike capabilities, the SSGNs will also have improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, enhancing their ability to carry out clandestine operations.

Due to its size and layout, SSGNs offer expanded living and training space for embarked SOF, including increased bunk capacity and improved training and physical conditioning areas that allow the SOF operators to maintain their high operating capacity. Another advantage of SSGNs' size will be its ability to carry an increased payload that will allow for the launch and recovery of unmanned undersea vehicles. As new capabilities and equipment are developed, they can be inserted relatively easily into SSGNs thanks to its open architecture computing systems and the related ability to rapidly integrate new technologies and payloads. SSGN can also offer significant opportunities to serve as a test platform to develop future weapons, sensors, and operational concepts.

"The added payload capacity of the SSGNs gives us mission flexibility and future capability options unlike anything we have ever had," said Norris. The SSGN conversion program is the first truly transformational program in the Navy. President George W. Bush made reference to it in his May 2001 commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy, and since then the program will go from the first boat entering the shipyard to the last boat being delivered back to the Fleet in less than five years. SSGN embodies a new level of adaptable warfare that is suited for today's security environment.

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