US Navy Ohio-Class Sub Test Launches Ballistic Missile

 In GDI, Land, Sea

The U.S. Navy con­duct­ed a sched­uled mis­sile test firing of an unarmed life-extend­ed Trident II (D5) mis­sile from an Ohio-class nuclear-pow­ered bal­lis­tic mis­sile sub­ma­rine (SSBN), the USS Maine (SSBN-741), off the coast of Southern California on February 12. 

According to a U.S. Navy press state­ment, the launch was part of a so-called Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, des­ig­nat­ed DASO-30, and aims to “eval­u­ate and demon­strate the readi­ness of the SSBN’s strate­gic weapon system and crew before oper­a­tional deploy­ment fol­low­ing the submarine’s engi­neered refu­el­ing over­haul.

The USS Maine com­plet­ed a three-year over­haul that includ­ed refu­el­ing of the boomer’s nuclear reac­tor at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in June 2019. 

“The pro­fes­sion­al per­for­mance by the crew of the USS Maine today demon­strat­ed they are ready to stand the watch for our nation’s strate­gic deter­rence mis­sion,” said James F. Geurts, assis­tant sec­re­tary of the Navy for research, devel­op­ment, and acqui­si­tion, who embarked USS Maine for the launch, on February 12. 

The February 12 launch marked the 177th in the line of suc­cess­ful flights of the Trident II (D5) SLBM. 

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Today’s launch was con­duct­ed from sea, the mis­sile flew over the sea, and landed in the sea. At no time did the mis­sile fly over land,” the Navy said in a state­ment. “The mis­sile test was not con­duct­ed in response to any ongo­ing world events or as a demon­stra­tion of power. Test launch­es – includ­ing DASOs – are sched­uled years in advance.”

The Navy last con­duct­ed four sched­uled mis­sile test fir­ings of unarmed Trident II (D5) mis­siles from the Ohio-class SSBN USS Nebraska (SSBN-739) in September 2019. 

The four test launch­es were part of a Commander Evaluation Test (CET) with the pri­ma­ry goal of val­i­dat­ing per­for­mance expec­ta­tions of the SLBMs. 

A pre­vi­ous DASO test launch of a Trident II (D5) took place in May 2019 when the USS Rhode Island fired an unarmed SLBM from a sub­merged posi­tion off the coast of Florida.

The Trident II D5 is a three-stage, solid pro­pel­lant bal­lis­tic mis­sile with a range of about 4,000 nau­ti­cal miles or around 7,400 kilo­me­ters. The mis­sile is fitted with mul­ti­ple inde­pen­dent­ly tar­getable reen­try vehi­cles, each car­ry­ing a ther­monu­clear war­head.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “The Trident D5s carry three types of war­heads: the 100-kilo­ton W76/Mk‑4, the 100-kilo­ton W76‑1/Mk-4A, and the 455-kilo­ton W88/Mk‑5 war­head, the high­est-yield bal­lis­tic mis­sile war­head in the U.S. arse­nal.”

The U.S. Navy also field­ed a new W76‑2 low-yield nuclear war­head, a vari­ant of the stan­dard W76‑1 Trident II war­head, on board cer­tain Ohio-class boomers. 

The U.S. Navy cur­rent­ly oper­ates a fleet of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs, each capa­ble of car­ry­ing up to 24 Trident II D‑5 SLBMs. Beginning in 2031, the Ohio class is slated to be grad­u­al­ly replaced by the new Columbia class. The Navy aims to deploy 12 Columbia-class boomers, designed for a 42-year ser­vice life all the way through 2085.

Source: The Diplomat

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