Replacing the Ohio Class SSBN

The US Navy’s Ohio-Class SSBN will be active past it’s original service life of 30 years. Currently, the 2027 date for retirement will reflect 40 years of operational useage. This is remarkable for a submarine, considering the environment within which it operates. However, the Navy needs to find a replacemenr, and time is getting short.

Currently, there is a program to standardize the Trident missile system within both the US and British fleet, which makes a great deal of sense. However, we are looking at 17 years before the Ohio go into storage, and time is a-wasting, as it were. Russia is already underway with both a new missile and a new Boomer to carry it.

This article will bring you up to date on what the Navy is looking at.

The defense establishment has begun to examine what it will take to replace the Ohio-class SSBNs when the first one retires in 2027 and the remaining boats are retired at the rate of one per year through 2040. This planning is occurring at just the right time—not too soon, not too late. The eighteen years between now and 2027 represent the typical amount of time it takes to design and build a replacement class of submarines. The design and construction standard has been validated by our three most recent classes: Ohio, Seawolf and Virginia. But unlike the Ohio-class, which has an extended life of 40 years, the replacement to the Ohio will be designed and constructed up front initially for 40 years of operation.

Over the last year or so, much work has been done to lay the groundwork for the Ohio replacement. In June 2007, Commander, United States Strategic Command wrote the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations that “Allowing Ohio-class SSBNs and the TRIDENT Strategic Weapons System to reach end of life without replacement will create an unacceptable gap in the nation’s Sea Based Strategic Deterrent (SBSD) capabilities.” This letter set into motion a series of studies, assessments and reviews to define the initial set of attributes for the Ohio replacement. Not surprisingly, the characteristics of our next SSBN will be very similar to those of our current SSBN fleet… stealthy, survivable, persistently present, adaptable, capable… attributes that are in concert with the Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.


14 Responses to “Replacing the Ohio Class SSBN”

  1. 1 SCOTT the BADGER
    March 10, 2010 at 07:39

    That’s 10 additional years of dive/surface stress cycles. I hope that they have a sufficent modulus of safety built into the hull.

  2. March 10, 2010 at 18:16

    The planning is all well and good on the Navy side, but the Obama Administration is moving away from Nukes in a big way. There is a huge push from the far Left to unilaterally retire strategic nuclear weapons and the platforms that carry them. My guess is that Submarines, Boomers in particular will be put up on the chopping block as a sign of our commitment to ridding the world of the menace presented by nuclear weapons. There is no better way to this ideal than NOT starting on building a replacement for this weapon system or at least delay it until a new Administration is in power that understands what National Security really means. Could be three years delay or another 7?

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  3. March 10, 2010 at 18:36

    Yes indeed. I shudder whenever I think about the naivete’ of this administration. Having served throughout the Carter administration, I hoped to have never again seen such ignorant positions, but, alas, I was wrong.

  4. 4 ewok
    March 10, 2010 at 19:16

    Even poor RN is working on Trident follow-up, Russians are working hard if not very succesfully on Borey/Bulava tandem, and Chinese are getting their new SSNs into reality too. As much as I like the idea of non-nuclear world, I am concerned this will be only idea for many years to come.

    • 5 SCOTT the BADGER
      March 10, 2010 at 20:22

      Pawel! Welcome to Tim’s porch!

      Yes, I can see this administration getting rid of the Boomers, so no one will feel threatened by us. Sometinmes I believe Bismarck had it right, in tha t it is better to be feared than liked.

  5. March 10, 2010 at 20:42

    Yes, welcome my 40K friend!

  6. 7 clarkward
    March 11, 2010 at 12:09

    I think that it will take longer to decom our Trident fleet than the O’crap! administration will have to do it in, unless they can sell the greens on stacking boomers on a beach somewhere like I’ve seen in pics of old russian subs. In a bit of gallows humor on deployment, we (my watch team in Maneuvering) did the math and figured that it’d be cheaper for the Navy to expend one Mk 48 ADCAP to sink our sub and pay off 135 SGLI premiums than to decom the boat. By a wide margin. 🙂 Heh. Things you think about at sea…

    Nice to see other guys who move little plastic and metal figs around…

    The Emperor Protects!

  7. March 11, 2010 at 15:29

    No kidding…. I had a new crewman on a flight down to the range at Autec. We had 2 live MK-46 onboard to drop on their remote-control targets. Well, the kid was sweating and pale and I asked him what was wrong. He said he was nervous about carrying live ordnance. What happens if one goes off in the bomb bay? I replied that he ought not to worry, with two torpedoes surrounded by 50K pounds of JP-5, it would get real bright for about a half a second, then real loud and real hot for the rest of that second, then it’d get really quiet and dark.

    He didn’t thank that that was very funny. 🙂

    If this administration wanted to really mess things up, they’d probably recall all the boomers and have them put into their home port, then offload all the missiles and destroy those. That would destroy the SSBN force in a simple stroke. Thing is, is that Congress would have to approve of the measure, and I don’t think there are enough lunatics there to go along with such a plan.

    FWIW, My son, the Airborne Infantryman, also plays 40K. We’re everywhere….. 🙂

  8. 10 Submarine crewman
    April 6, 2010 at 23:51

    I served in the SSBN fleet. Will a day come when SSBN’s no longer protect America and our cities with a platform that is dastardly hard to find and destroy? Perhaps, if obama and the non nuclear goon squad get their way; then yes they will and have already consigned the 14 remaining boats to the submarine junk pile. What a sad thought that because of Carter, Clinton and all the anti nuclear idiots-not even one can be put on display for future generations. Thank Carter and Clinton for that one. Salt 1, Salt 2, Start and all the goons trying to rid the world of nukes and think they are doing a good thing. If one reads history before nukes, then you find that a lot more wars and genocides happened than today. WW1, Spanish civil war, WW2, Then things kind of petered out on the major war front as nukes became more available. Vietnam was an internal affair, but im not debating vietnam or rowanda. Nukes have kept the peace since 1945. And all the naysayers want to eliminate a device that terrifies any and everyone in every country world wide. Why would you want to eliminate a device that has kept another hitler or hirohito from rising? Maybe some people long for the old days on the western front 1916, or bloody april, or the fighting around alsace lorraine. I served my country, i seen things that’d turn most people white, and i agree with keeping nukes around-it keeps the world in check. While some might regard me as an old cold war warrior, i stood tall and did it proudly, keeping americas nuclear weapons ready to launch in the deep blue sea. No greater term ever existed-MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction.

    A former submariner and missle boater.

    • April 7, 2010 at 00:15


      Thanks for your service, and know that I, and many others share your concerns.

      One of the great things I took from my years in the fleet was knowing how good our SSBN fleet was. If WE couldn’t find you guys, with all the gear and experience WE had, then no way was Ivan or anyone else gonna find you.

      I took a great deal of comfort from that.

      Thanks for your comment!


  9. 12 Grandpa Bluewater
    April 14, 2010 at 19:42

    Submarine crewman speaks for virtually all of us of those like us.

    Better MAD than SAD (Self Assured Destruction).

    Feel free to steal and use the line, I did.

  10. 14 Martin
    January 4, 2011 at 16:18

    Ihope submarines are detected from space. This shall nuetralise their threat to other countries.

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