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Posted: 4/13/2006 8:34:14 AM EDT
Multimission-Capable Sub Readies for Full Operation
(Source: US Navy; issued April 12, 2006)



NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KINGS BAY, Ga. --- The guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) arrived at its new home of Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., April 11, completing the sub’s three-year refueling and conversion at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.

Florida is the second Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine the Navy has reconfigured, replacing its 24 Trident missiles with nearly 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, switching the boat from a nuclear deterrent to a source of more conventional firepower in the global war on terrorism.

“We’ve taken the Trident submarine, which is a well proven design, and we’ve done great things with it,” said Florida’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Gregory Ott. “It’s a very flexible platform. We haven’t really built it just for today’s threat. We’ve built it so that it can be modified for whatever’s over the horizon that we can’t imagine.”

The first in the class, the guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726) returned to the fleet in February, and two additional subs, USS Michigan (SSGN 727) and USS Georgia (SSGN 729), are currently undergoing conversion.

The Navy's existing fleet of attack submarines had already been outfitted with Tomahawk cruise missiles, a staple of naval operations in the past used during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although effective, the attack subs could only carry a small number of missiles, which meant several vessels were needed to conduct major cruise missile strikes.

“When we had submarines in the Gulf,” said Florida’s Chief of the Boat, Command Master Chief (SS) Harold Miller, “it’s a huge waterspace management issue to have multiple submarines in this area. If we had two of the [SSGNs] there, we could have launched more missiles and still not had the waterspace issue that we had.”

Changing to conventional weapons isn’t all Florida did while she went through the conversion. Several areas of space aboard were reconfigured for increased littoral combat capability.

The newly-upgraded SSGNs can now fully house “at least 66 or more SEALs (Sea, Air, Land),” said Ott. “There are no platforms right now other than the SSGN that are dedicated to carrying special forces. And it’s not just the personnel that we can carry – we can carry all of their equipment, and the ship has the capability to deliver the SEALs covertly.”

According to Ott, Florida’s firepower, mixed with a greater capacity to move SEALs and their equipment into mission essential areas, increases the Navy’s ability to engage the enemy on a whole new level.

“The importance of having nobody know you’re there can’t be overstated,” said Ott. “The bottom line is, if you put a surface ship off the coast or there is knowledge of the Navy’s presence, people don’t do the same things. They go hide when they know you’re there. So having the submarine there and that whole stealth piece, is very important.”

The boat plans to have its Return to the Fleet ceremony in May at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., and then return to King’s Bay to begin its service to the fleet.
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 8:36:43 AM EDT
Out of curiosity, are we developing a replacement class of SSBNs for when the Ohio's start to near the end of their service life?
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 8:42:35 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/13/2006 8:43:13 AM EDT by COLE-CARBINE]

Originally Posted By happycynic:
Out of curiosity, are we developing a replacement class of SSBNs for when the Ohio's start to near the end of their service life?



Good question, I know DARPA and the USN were looking at some real cutting edge stuff called Tango-Bravo. I got the impression that it was mostly for attack subs, but I'm just reading from open sources, no insider stuff. I'd be very surprised if they weren't. One of the reasons for converting these 4 subs to Tactical Trident was the fact there was at least 20 years service life left in the Ohio Class. So, we have some time.
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 8:48:25 AM EDT

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:

Originally Posted By happycynic:
Out of curiosity, are we developing a replacement class of SSBNs for when the Ohio's start to near the end of their service life?



Good question, I know DARPA and the USN were looking at some real cutting edge stuff called Tango-Bravo. I got the impression that it was mostly for attack subs, but I'm just reading from open sources, no insider stuff. I'd be very surprised if they weren't. One of the reasons for converting these 4 subs to Tactical Trident was the fact there was at least 20 years service life left in the Ohio Class. So, we have some time.



and that's the original stated service life. if they are well maintained as they are, they can stay in service for decades past that if necessary. the US is moving more and more away from nuclear weapons as a primary means of fighting a war. even if we get into a major shooting war, even with a fellow nuclear power, i would be willing to bet that we will never fire a SLBM with a nuclear tip. the results, both real and political would be devastating for us. i think it would take a large scale nuclear first strike on the US before we would consider using nukes for real.
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 8:52:44 AM EDT
My guess is we don't need as many Ohio Class subs anymore whereas we need additional conventional capacity. The OC subs still have a lot of life in them. There has also been talk of outfitting the D5s with conventional warheads. Not sure how that would work w/o getting the Rooskies and Chinese nervous.

Bomber
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 8:54:08 AM EDT

Originally Posted By happycynic:
Out of curiosity, are we developing a replacement class of SSBNs for when the Ohio's start to near the end of their service life?



Yes, but the first one won't retire till 2030. Expect to see lots of budget fights in about 8 years over a new SSBN
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 8:58:18 AM EDT
Out-fvcking-standing!
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 9:00:28 AM EDT
I hear tell of some iranians who might be in need of a little loving from the USS Florida. Get some boys.
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 9:13:59 AM EDT
Why would they have a welcome back party in Mayport (where no subs are based) instead of Kings Bay?
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 9:16:58 AM EDT
pretty sweet. how do you have nearly 154 cruise missiles though? isn't it either 154 or not?
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