The Ohio Class Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) is the United States Navy
's primary strategic weapon. The Ohio Class is sometimes referred to as the 'Trident Class
', because of the type of missle it carries. Capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads nearly anywhere on Earth
from nearly any location in the ocean, the Ohio class is the most stable and reliable part of the United States of America
's triad of nuclear deterrent
. While the enemy can destroy bomber bases and missile silos with their own nuclear weapons, it would be difficult to destroy the Navy's ballistic missile submarines (or even find them, seeing as how the Earth is mostly ocean!), thus guaranteeing a constant American nuclear force, even in the event of complete neutralization of ground and air-based nuclear assets (polite euphemism for doomsday
In order to maintain this shield of deterrence, the Ohio Class Ballistic Missile Submarine is at sea as much as 2/3 of the time. Long patrols that concentrate on staying hidden from the enemy, and praying that they are never called on to perform their primary mission. One of the main features of the Ohio class is the system of rotating crews. There are two crews (usually called Gold Crew and Blue Crew), and two captains. While one crew is out patrolling, the other crew is typically on leave. This helps relieve the stress of the extended patrols that Ohio class submariners and their families must endure.
There are two main types of submarines that the United States Navy operates; the 'boomers' like the Ohio Class Missile Submarine, and the SSN attack subs. The boomers are strategic missile submarines, and use the SSBN designation (the 'B' is for ballistic, as in missile'. Their mission is to go on 'strategic deterrence' patrols, and avoid contact. The Los Angeles Submarine and other SSNs have a mission completely opposite from this; theirs, in addition to their other duties, is to seek out enemy submarines, and destroy them before they may launch their missiles. An example of an SSBN would be the USS Alabama as seen is Denzel Washington/Gene Hackman's movie Crimson Tide, and an example of an SSN would be the Los Angeles class USS Dallas from Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October. The differences between the two missions is illustrated in these movies.
The Ohio class is capable of missions lasting many months (typically seventy days, with 25 day port layover). The only limit to the length that an Ohio class sub may be underway, or underwater is that of the food supplies, and the tolerance of the crew. The nuclear reactor (which puts the 'N' in SSBN) provides massive amounts of power for many years, which allows the ship to convert sea water to oxygen for breathing, and fresh water for food preperation, drinking, showering, and toilets. The submarine service is reputed to recieve the best food in the US Navy, to help make up for the fact the crew is crammed into such a small space for such long periods of time. Typically, Ohio class subs carry ninety days worth of food. Before a sub leaves port, every single nook and cranny is completely filled with food and other consumables. The area between the missile silos, and underneath the grated walkways are primary storage areas.
During the late 1960s, it was realized that the increasing anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities of the Soviet Union placed the current fleet of ballistic missile subs at risk, because of their relatively short-range missiles, their slow speed, and their noise levels. After the Los Angeles class program was underway, it was decided to apply some of those advances towards a new class of SSBN. This new class was to increase missile capacity by 50%, and be able to carry the new Trident missiles. The First Ohio Class submarine, the USS Ohio (SSBN-726), was comissioned on the 11th of November, 1981.
The Ohio Class can currently carry 24 independently targetable missiles, each with five Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle MIRV warheads, each capable of striking a different target. In 2002, Ohio Class Ballistic Missle Submarines carry approximately fifty percent of the United States's active nuclear warheads.
Builders: General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division
Power Plant: One nuclear reactor, one shaft
Length: 560 feet (170.69 meters)
Beam: 42 feet (12.8 meters)
Displacement: 16,764 tons (17,033.03 metric tons) surfaced; 18,750 tons (19,000.1 metric tons) submerged
Speed: 20+ knots (23+ miles per hour, 36.8 +kph)*
Crew: 15 Officers, 140 Enlisted
Armament: 24 tubes for Trident I and II, MK-48 torpedoes, four torpedo tubes.
Date Deployed: November 11, 1981 (USS Ohio)
*Speed reflects official release only. Note that the + sign allows for a much higher speed than 20 knots. Unofficial estimates (rumors) suggest that the Ohio can make at least 30 knots, probably more)
Ohio Class Ships
Name - Hull Number Home Port Launched Comissioned Decom...
Ohio - SSBN 726 Bangor 7 Apr 79 - 11 Nov 81 - 2023
Michigan - SSBN 727 Bangor 26 Apr 80 - 11 Sep 82 - 2024
Florida - SSBN 728 Bangor 14 Nov 81 - 18 Jun 83 - 2025
Georgia - SSBN 729 Bangor 06 Nov 82 - 11 Feb 84 - 2026
Henry M. Jackson - SSBN 730 " 15 Oct 83 - 06 Oct 84 - 2026
Alabama - SSBN 731 Bangor 19 May 84 - 25 May 85 - 2027
Alaska - SSBN 732 Bangor 12 Jan 85 - 25 Jan 86 - 2028
Nevada - SSBN 733 Bangor 14 Sep 85 - 16 Aug 86 - 2028
Built with Trident II D-5 Missile System, SSBN-734+ (Note: previous 8 Ohios were upgraded to Trident II)
Tennessee - SSBN 734 Kings Bay 13 Dec 86 - 17 Dec 88 - 2030
Pennsylvania - SSBN 735 Kings Bay 23 Apr 88 - 09 Sep 89 - 2031
West Virginia - SSBN 736Kings Bay 14 Oct 89 - 20 Oct 90 - 2032
Kentucky - SSBN 737 Kings Bay 11 Aug 90 - 13 Jul 91 - 2033
Maryland - SSBN 738 Kings Bay 15 Jun 91 - 13 Jun 92 - 2034
Nebraska - SSBN 739 Kings Bay 15 Aug 92 - 10 Jul 93 - 2035
Rhode Island - SSBN 740 Kings Bay 17 Jul 93 - 09 Jul 94 - 2036
Maine - SSBN 741 Kings Bay 16 Jul 94 - 29 Jul 95 - 2037
Wyoming - SSBN 742 Kings Bay 15 Jul 95 - 13 Jul 96 - 2038
Louisiana - SSBN 743 Kings Bay 27 Jul 96 - 06 Sep 97 - 2039