The Ohio class submarine is a class of nuclear-powered submarines used by the United States Navy. The United States has 18 Ohio-class submarines:
- 14 nuclear-powered SSBNs (ballistic missile submarines), each armed with up to 24 Trident II SLBMs; they are also known as "Trident" submarines, and provide the sea-based leg of the nuclear triad of the United States strategic nuclear weapons arsenal
- 4 nuclear-powered SSGNs (cruise missile submarines), each capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles with either conventional or nuclear warheads
The Ohio class submarine is named after the lead submarine of this class, the USS Ohio (SSGN-726) formerly designated SSBN-726. The 14 Trident II SSBNs together carry approximately fifty percent of the total US strategic warhead inventory. The exact number varies in an unpredictable and classified manner, at or below a maximum set by various strategic arms limitation treaties. Although the missiles have no pre-set targets when the submarine goes on patrol, the platform, when required, is capable of rapid targeting using secure and constant at-sea communications links. The Ohio class is the largest type of submarine ever constructed for the U.S. Navy. Two Russian classes of submarines have larger total displacements: the Soviet-designed Typhoon class, which has more than twice the total displacement, and the Russian Federation's newest class of ballistic missile submarines, the highly advanced Borei class, which has roughly a 25% greater total displacement, but is shorter by 3 feet.
Ohio class submarine were specifically designed for extended deterrence patrols. Each submarine is complemented by two crews, Blue and Gold (standard practice for US FBMs), with each crew typically serving 70-90 day patrols. To decrease the time in port for crew turnover and replenishment, three large logistics hatches are fitted to provide large diameter resupply and repair openings. These hatches allow sailors to rapidly transfer supply pallets, equipment replacement modules, and machinery components, significantly reducing the time required for replenishment and maintenance. The class design allows the vessel to operate for over fifteen years between major overhauls. The boats are purported to be as quiet at their cruising speed of 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) as previous subs were at a dead crawl of 6 knots (11 km/h; 6.9 mph), although exact information remains classified.
Ohio class submarine were constructed from sections of hull, each 42 ft (13 m) in diameter, each divided into four decks. The sections were produced at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and assembled by Electric Boat at Groton. Fire control for the Mark 48 torpedoes is by Mark 118 Mod 2 system, while the Missile Fire Control (MFC) system is a Mark 98.
Except for USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730), the Ohio class submarines are named after states in the United States.
After the end of the Cold War, plans called for Ohio class submarine to be retired in 2002, followed by three of her sisters. However, Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Georgia instead were slated for modification, to remain in service carrying conventionally-armed guided missiles, and were designated SSGNs.
Beginning in 2002 through 2010, 22 of the 24 88-inch (2.2 m) diameter Trident missile tubes were modified to contain large vertical launch systems (VLS), one configuration of which may be a cluster of seven Tomahawk cruise missiles. In this configuration, the number of cruise missiles carried could be a maximum of 154, the equivalent of what is typically deployed in a surface battle group. Other payload possibilities include new generations of supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, and Submarine Launched Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (SLIRBM), unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), the ADM-160 MALD, sensors for anti-submarine warfare or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, counter-mine warfare payloads such as the AN/BLQ-11 Long Term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS), and the broaching universal buoyant launcher (BUBL) and stealthy affordable capsule system (SACS) specialized payload canisters.
The missile tubes also have room for stowage canisters that can extend the forward deployment time for special forces. The other two Trident tubes are converted to swimmer lockout chambers. For special operations, the Advanced SEAL Delivery System and the Dry Deck Shelter can be mounted on the lockout chamber and the boat will be able to host up to 66 special operations sailors or Marines, such as Navy SEALs. Improved communications equipment installed during the upgrade allows the SSGNs to serve as a forward-deployed, clandestine Small Combatant Joint Command Center.
On 26 September 2002, the Navy awarded the Electric Boat company a $442.9 million contract to begin the first phase of the SSGN submarine conversion program. Those funds covered only the initial phase of conversion for the first two boats on the schedule. Advanced procurement was funded at $355 million in fiscal year 2002, $825 million in the FY 2003 budget and, through the five-year defense budget plan, at $936 million in FY 2004, $505 million in FY 2005, and $170 million in FY 2006. Thus, the total cost to refit the four boats is just under $700 million per vessel.
In November 2002, the USS Ohio entered drydock, beginning her 36-month refueling and missile conversion overhaul. Electric Boat announced on 9 January 2006 that the conversion had been completed. The converted Ohio rejoined the fleet in February 2006, followed by the USS Florida in April 2006. The converted USS Michigan was delivered in November 2006. The converted Ohio went to sea for the first time in October 2007. The Georgia returned to the fleet in March 2008 at Kings Bay. These four SSGNs are expected to remain in service until about 2023-2026.
|Ohio Class Submarine overview|
|Builders:||General Dynamics Electric Boat|
|Operators:||United States Navy|
|Preceded by:||Benjamin Franklin class|
|Built:||1976 – 1997|
|In commission:||1981 – present|
|Type:||SSBN/SSGN (hull design SCB-304)|
|Displacement:||16,764 tonnes (16,499 long tons) surfaced |
18,750 tonnes (18,450 long tons) submerged
|Length:||560 ft (170 m)|
|Beam:||42 ft (13 m)|
|Draft:||35.5 ft (10.8 m) maximum|
|Propulsion:||1× S8G PWR nuclear reactor |
2× geared turbines=60,000 shp (45 MW) Fairbanks Morse auxiliary diesel
1× 325 horsepower (242 kW) auxiliary motor
1 shaft with seven-bladed screw
|Speed:||12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h) surfaced |
+20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h) submerged (official)
25 knots (29 mph; 46 km/h) submerged (reported)
|Range:||Limited only by food supplies|
|Test depth:||+800 ft (240 m)|
|Crew:||15 officers |
|Sensors and |
|BQQ-6 passive bow-mounted array (which includes BQS-13 fire control array) |
•TB-16 or BQR-23 towed array
•BQR-25 conformal array
4× 21 in (53 cm) Mark 68 torpedo tubes (midships)