SSBN-726 Ohio-Class FBM Submarines
Strategic deterrence has been the sole mission of the fleet ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) since its inception in 1960. The SSBN provides the nation's most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability. The Ohio class submarine replaced aging fleet ballistic missile submarines built in the 1960s and is far more capable.
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay hosted the commissioning of USS LOUISIANA (SSBN 743) 06 September 1997 at the TRIDENT Refit Facility Drydock. The commissioning of LOUISIANA completed the Navy's fleet of 18 fleet ballistic missile submarines.
The TRIDENT II (D5) program achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) on 23 March 1990, when the USS TENNESSEE (SSBN 734) was deployed with 24 tactical D5 missiles. The TRIDENT II Strategic Weapon System (SWS) represents the sixth generation of the Navy's Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Systems, which have served as significant deterrents to aggression and major war since POLARIS (A1) achieved IOC in 1960.
The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which was forwarded to Congress in December 2001, outlined the Strategic Submarine Force structure: 14 SSBNs outfitted with the TRIDENT II (D5) Strategic Weapon System in 2 oceans. In accordance with the NPR, the remaining four of the original eighteen TRIDENT SSBNs will be converted to SSGNs.
The Ohio-class submarines each carry 24 TRIDENT missiles. The ten Trident submarines in the Atlantic fleet stationed in Kings Bay, Georgia were initially equipped with the D-5 Trident II missile. The eight submarines in the Pacific stationed in Bangor, Washington, were initially equipped with the C-4 Trident I missile. In 1996 the Navy started to backfit submarines in the Pacific to carry the D-5 missile. Conversion of four of the C4 ships to carry the TRIDENT II/D5 missile began in FY 2000 and will be completed in FY 2008.
To achieve an all D5 SSBN force, backfit of four of the submarines to the D5 Strategic Weapon System from the TRIDENT I (C4) Strategic Weapon System has been initiated. The C4 SWS will be retired in FY 2005. The TRIDENT SWS and support facilities were designed from the beginning to handle the newer and larger missile system with minimal impact and cost. By early 2003, two of the four SSBNs had completed backfit; one was fully operational and making deployments in the Pacific, and the other was finishing its final certification and testing. The second submarine will also be homeported in the Pacific. The last two SSBNs were scheduled to start their backfit in FY 2005 and FY 2006. The contracts have been awarded and much of the required hardware has been procured. The four oldest of the OHIO Class submarines were selected for conversion to SSGNs because of their age and scheduled maintenance periods.
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