USS Georgia (SSGN 729) Delivered

Thursday, December 20, 2007
The Ohio class guided missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729) rests pierside at Naval Station Norfolk. Georgia made a brief stop at NS Norfolk while conducting sea trials after leaving Norfolk Naval Shipyards November 29, 2007, following the ship's conversion from a ballistic missile to a guided missile submarine. Georgia is the last of four submarines to be converted to SSGN. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Dean Lohmeyer (Released)

USS Georgia (SSGN 729), the fourth and final ship in the Navy's new class of reconfigured nuclear-powered guided missile submarines (SSGN), successfully completed sea trials Dec. 11. The objective of Georgia's sea trials was to ensure that all of the submarine's systems perform at full capacity before the submarine rejoined the fleet yesterday. Georgia and her sister ships, USS Ohio (SSGN 726), USS Michigan (SSGN 727), and USS Florida (SSGN 728), were formerly the first four ships of the Navy's current class of trident ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

"Although the SSGNs look almost identical to the 14 SSBNs from the outside, all four have been so extensively modified that they are a new class unto themselves, and like any overhauled or new construction platform, we first reestablish their readiness to rejoin the fleet via a full set of sea trials," said SSGN Program Manager Capt. Mark Bock. "Georgia had a very successful conversion process and both the crew and ship passed with flying colors."

Modifications include preparing Georgia for its new role as a stealthy strike and Special Operations Forces (SOF) platform. Georgia also features upgraded intelligence, search, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, and an improved communications capacity via the new Common Submarine Radio Room and two high-data rate antennas. Georgia will also have the capability to deploy with up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and accommodate up to 66 SOF personnel for extended periods of time to support sustained special operation campaigns.

Additionally, SSGNs have converted their forward-most missile tubes to contain lock-out chambers in support of both Seal Delivery Vehicle Dry Deck Shelter and Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) operations.

"At the same time Georgia is conducting sea trials," said Bock, "Ohio is out on its maiden SSGN deployment, making the last couple of months of 2007 very exciting for the program office, the Submarine Force, and the Navy overall."

Despite the SSGN conversion's complexity and condensed timeline, the SSGN Program Office estimates that it will deliver all four submarines within 1.1% of the original cost estimate from 2002.

"The SSGN is a 'good news' story because it speaks volumes about our credibility to the taxpayer as we have proven our ability to work on a very complicated program within a constrained cost and schedule framework," said Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. William Hilarides. "Overall, we took 134 months to deliver the four SSGNs, which is three months longer than we planned in FY02. It's not perfect, but it's close."

The SSGN program has reached a number of milestones over the past three months. On Nov. 1, Hilarides certified the Ohio Class SSGNs as reaching their Initial Operating Capability during a presentation at the Naval Submarine League's Annual Symposium. Later that month, Michigan completed the first battery of tests with ASDS. These included mating the ASDS docking pylons to Michigan's hull and then landing ASDS aboard the ship. Michigan is scheduled to conduct at-sea testing with ASDS in early 2008. In October, Ohio departed its homeport of Bangor, Wash., for Hawaii to prepare for its first operational deployment. The SSGNs are designed and built to deploy from their homeports for one-year intervals with three crew changes conducted in forward areas. Ohio will remain forward deployed for a full year prior to returning to Bangor, Wash. When all four ships reach full operating capabilities, the Navy will have on average 2.7 SSGNs forward deployed at any one time.

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