Ohio Class

Overview

Ohio Class

Nationality: United States

This American class of submarine is often held up as the ultimate in SSBNs. Design work began in the 1970s with the intention of replacing the original Lafayette and Benjamin Franklin boats. Although contracted in 1974 a series of problems both in Washington DC and the build company, Electric Boat, resulted in a major delay and the first vessel did not put to sea until 1981 for its sea trials. This was three years later than had been intended. The last of the eighteen vessels in this class was not commissioned until 1997. The original deployment was for ten to be stationed in the Atlantic and eight with the Pacific Fleet. The Atlantic based submarines were equipped with Trident II D5 missiles while those in the Pacific had Trident I C4s. After the end of the Cold War, in the late 1990s, the Pacific boats were all upgraded to the Trident II D5 missile.

The advantage of the Trident I missile was its ability to carry up to eight re-entry vehicles. This was increased still further by the later and more powerful Trident II D5 which carries up to fourteen but, more normally, has eight RVs, although they are nearly five times as powerful as the Trident I warheads.

The boats are both extremely quiet and with the longer range missiles can patrol the remoter parts of the oceans. This makes them virtually impossible to mount an effective ASW campaign against.

Each Ohio class submarine is expected to have a one year reactor refuelling refit every nine years. Patrol periods last for seventy days with another twenty-five alongside.

It is a sobering fact that each Ohio class submarine carries more explosive power in its missile compliment than has ever been used in all of combat history. With its missiles having only an error of 90m (295ft) at a range of more than 12000km (7456 miles), this is by far the most deadly Western ballistic missile submarine. With the face of warfare changing so radically in the post Cold War world it will be questionable whether the Americans will invest in such a large and expensive attack system in the future.


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