Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Ohio IV (SSBN-726)

1981-

Ohio was admitted to the Union as the 17th state on 1 March 1803.

The fourth ship named for Ohio. The first Ohio, a schooner, served from 1813-1814. The second Ohio, a ship-of-the-line, served from 1820-1883. The third Ohio (Battleship No. 12) was reclassified to BB-12 on 17 July 1920, and served from 1904-1922.

A fourth Ohio (BB-68), a Montana (BB-67) class battleship, was authorized on 19 July 1940, and her construction was assigned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pa. Her construction was cancelled on 21 July 1943.

IV

(SSBN-726: displacement 16,802; length 560'; beam 42'; draft 38'; speed 20+ knots; complement 153; armament 24 UGM-133 Trident I C4 submarine launched ballistic missiles and four torpedo tubes for Mk 48 torpedoes; class Ohio)

The fourth Ohio (SSBN-726) was laid down on 10 April 1976 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corp.; launched on 7 April 1979; sponsored by Mrs. Anna M. Glenn, wife of Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., USMC; and commissioned on 11 November 1981, Capt. Alton K. Thompson (Blue Crew) and Capt. Arlington F. Campbell (Gold Crew) in command.

Ohio (SSBN-726) IV 1981-79-48 (EB-10)
An estimated 20,000 people jam the pier at General Dynamic’s Electric Boat Division at Groton to watch Ohio’s christening, and the keel laying of her sister fleet ballistic missile submarine Georgia (SSBN-729), 7 April 1979. Mrs. Anna M. Glenn christens Ohio (afloat in the graving dock in the center), while First Lady of the United States Mrs. E. Rosalynn Carter welds her initials into Georgia’s keel – on the pier at the upper right. Michigan (SSBN-727) rises to the far right of the picture. (Electric Boat Photograph 79-48 (EB-10), donated to the Navy, Ohio (SSBN-726), Ships History, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Ohio (SSBN-726) IV 1981-KN 30149
A high oblique port bow view of Ohio as she completes her sea trials off the Connecticut coast, 4 September 1981. (Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class William Garlinghouse, U.S. Navy Photograph KN 30149, Ohio (SSBN-726), Ships History, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Ohio (SSBN-726) IV 1981-DN-ST-82-01353
(Left to right) Ens. P. Price, Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Berge, and Chief Machinist’s Mate S. I. Brown, work in Ohio’s control room as a fourth man looks on during precommissioning activities on board the submarine, 1 November 1981. (Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Dale L. Anderson, U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-82-01353, Ohio (SSBN-726), Ships History, Naval History and Heritage Command)

Ohio test fired two Trident I C4 submarine launched ballistic missiles from beneath the Atlantic, on 17 January (Blue Crew) and 13 March (Gold Crew) 1982, respectively. Manned by her Gold Crew, Ohio shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific Fleets (July-August 1982). She passed through the Panama Canal on 29 July, and reached her new home port of Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Wash., on 12 August. Manned by her Blue Crew, Ohio completed her maiden strategic deterrent patrol (October-10 December 1982).

The changing strategic picture following the collapse of the East Bloc persuaded Navy leaders to convert Ohio and the second-fourth submarines of her class, Florida (SSBN-728), Georgia (SSBN-729), and Michigan (SSBN-727), to guided missile submarines (SSGNs), principally equipped to fire UGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) through Multiple All-Up-Round Canisters in lieu of their Tridents. The modifications included: the ability to deploy with up to 154 TLAMs; improved intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities; and enhanced communications via the Common Submarine Radio Room. The conversions also opened the possibility that the submarines could operate unmanned aerial systems and unmanned undersea systems.

Florida (SSBN-728) VI 1983-030814-N-0000X-003
An artist’s rendering captures how a converted Ohio-class submarine will launch her TLAMs from beneath the waves, 14 August 2003. (U.S. Navy Photograph 030814-N-0000X-003, Navy NewsStand)

In addition, Ohio gained the ability to support a Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) detachment. The SEALs could exit or re-enter the submarine as a group via two of the former Trident missile tubes. A small combatant joint command center enabled Ohio to support the SEALs while the men fought ashore, and two further systems improved her special operations capabilities: the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS), a dry, min-submarine designed to deploy from her hull with a SEAL coastal assault team; and a SEAL Delivery Vehicle, which she could house within a dry deck shelter (DDS). Ohio accomplished her conversion, including a midlife engineering refueling overhaul, at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. (15 November 2002-19 December 2005, attaining operational status on 7 February 2006). Ohio operated with Submarine Squadron 19, Submarine Group 9, at Bangor.

Ohio (SSBN-726) IV 1981-051219-N-0000C-002
Large harbor tug Wenatchee (YTB-808) nudges Ohio toward a pier at Puget Sound, after the newly converted guided missile submarine completes her sea trials, 19 December 2005. (Rick Chaffee, U.S. Navy Photograph 051219-N-0000C-002, Defense Visual Information Center)

While Ohio trained in Pacific waters shortly thereafter, heavy seas damaged DDS-02P’s fairing support structure, harming the external piping and flooding all three of the dry deck shelter’s chambers. The submarine subsequently completed repairs. Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio achieved their initial operational capability on 1 November 2007.

Ohio completed her maiden deployment as a guided missile submarine during a voyage to the Western Pacific (14 October 2007-22 December 2008, the Blue and Gold Crews periodically “switched out” to reduce the strain on the Sailors). The submarine tested tactics, techniques, and procedures that enabled an embarked commander to command and control special operations forces deployed from a guided missile submarine, during joint exercises Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 08 with: aircraft carrier Nimitz (CVN-68), with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 embarked; guided missile cruiser Princeton (CG-59); guided missile destroyers Chaffee (DDG-90), Higgins (DDG-76), and John Paul Jones (DDG-53); USAF and USA forces; and the South Korean armed forces (February-March 2008). For one week during a portion of the exercises, Brig. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, USA, Commander Special Operations Command Korea, embarked on board Ohio with nearly 100 people including: a Combined/Joint Special Operations Task Force staff; a Naval Special Warfare Task Group battle staff; a SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team detachment; an Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha; and South Korean liaison officers.

“I believe we can operate in this environment,” Trombitas afterward summarized, “because I successfully operated with less bandwidth as a Special Forces team leader in Central America during the 1980s…this must be the first step in a larger evolution; we can’t view this as a complete test in and of itself. Board the platform [Ohio] with an open mind and look for what you can do, not what you can’t do.”

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

10 July 2014

Published: Mon Aug 17 11:45:55 EDT 2015