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USS Alabama Offloads Last of C4 Trident Missiles

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051105-02
Release Date: 11/5/2005 5:00:00 PM

By Journalist 1st Class Mary Popejoy, Naval Base Kitsap Public Affairs

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Distinguished visitors and the crew of USS Alabama (SSBN 731) came together to witness the decommissioning of the C4 Trident I Weapons System at the Explosive Handling Wharf on Naval Base Kitsap in late October.

The crew of Alabama had just completed offloading the final 24 rounds of Trident I C4 missiles to go to sea, the last ever.

"Your outstanding work during the last two weeks of offload, and the four weeks of preparation preceding it, exemplifies your contribution to the deterrence of war," said Cmdr. Mel Lee, commanding officer, USS Alabama (Gold). "This is an awesome accomplishment. Well done, Alabama."

Now that the C4 missiles have been successfully offloaded, Alabama will move to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in January to undergo a conversion to carry the Tridend II D5 missile.

The Trident I C4 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile that was developed to replace the Poseidon missile in existing strategic missile submarines and to arm the Ohio-class SSBNs. The first C4 missile was deployed in 1979.

"Over the course of the past 26 years, the C4 missile has been an integral part of our history, and I think the C4 missile did more for this country than the Navy and Congress ever expected. Because of its impact, I think the C4 missile could've very easily shaped history," said Lee.

The Trident II D5 missile is more sophisticated than the Trident I C4, with a significantly greater payload capability. All three stages of the Trident II are made of lighter, stronger, stiffer graphite epoxy, whose integrated structure means considerable weight savings. The missile’s range is increased by the aerospike, a telescoping outward extension that reduces frontal drag by about 50 percent.

When the missile attains sufficient distance from the submarine, the first stage motor ignites, the aerospike extends and the boost stage begins. Within about two minutes, after the third stage motor kicks in, the missile is traveling in excess of 20,000 feet per second.

With the D5 missile system now the standard for all U.S. ballistic missile submarines, Lee is confident that it will do its job and then some.

"I believe the D5 missile is more in tune with the nation's strategic deterrence policy, and its capabilities are more on target with the new threats that we face," said Lee.

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