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 Nava
l 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
will be pioneers in tactics and employment of this amazing class
"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
"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.