More
    HomeMilitaryImpending Ohio-Class Sub Retirement Leaves a Gap in U.S. Naval Power

    Impending Ohio-Class Sub Retirement Leaves a Gap in U.S. Naval Power

    Published on

    spot_img
    Submarine USS Ohio pulls into Apra Harbor” by #PACOM is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The impending retirement of the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class guided missile submarines (SSGNs) has raised concerns about a potential strategic shortfall in missile capacity as the nation competes with rising maritime powers.

    An unarmed Trident II (D5LE) missile launches from Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maine (SSBN 741).” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The four Ohio-class SSGNs, converted from ballistic missile submarines during the Cold War to carry a formidable arsenal of 154 Tomahawk missiles each, are scheduled for decommissioning between 2026 and 2028.

    The Ohio-class guided missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726)” by #PACOM is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The planned retirement of the first two submarines, USS Ohio (SSGN-726) and USS Florida (SSGN-728), will occur in 2026, followed by the USS Michigan (SSGN-727) and USS Georgia (SSGN-729) in 2028.

    USS Florida (SSGN 728) returns to its homeport.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    These vessels, with over 40 years of service, were once part of the U.S. nuclear triad strategy, providing stealth and survivability for America’s nuclear deterrence.

    Snow-covered USS Ohio at PSNS & IMF for conversion to SSGN” by PSNS & IMF is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Their transformation into SSGNs expanded their tactical versatility, allowing them to support special operations forces and act as underwater joint command centers due to advanced communication systems like the Common Submarine Radio Room and High-Data-Rate antennas.

    Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Hawaii” by #PACOM is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Facing a significant reduction in vertical launch payload capacity with these retirements, the Navy is in the midst of transitioning to the newer Block V Virginia-class fast attack submarines.

    Virginia Class Attack Submarine” by Rennett Stowe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    These vessels include the Virginia Payload Module, an 84-foot-long section that can host four large-diameter vertical launch tubes, each capable of holding seven Tomahawk missiles. However, the Navy would need to procure 22 of these VPM-equipped Virginias to regain the lost payload capacity.

    USS Columbia visits Yokosuka, Japan” by #PACOM is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Despite this, production delays exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the prioritization of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines have pushed back the schedule of Virginia-class deliveries.

    USS Columbia shifts colors to the bridge during routine operations.” by LockheedMartin19 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The Columbia-class, designed to replace the Ohio-class SSBNs, is the Navy’s top priority, diverting available manpower to ensure the program remains on track.

    171111-N-FP878-034” by CNE CNA C6F is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    Consequently, there is an alarming gap in the Navy’s missile capacity, at a time when strategic competition and naval modernization are becoming increasingly crucial.

    The bridge-crew of the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) conducts routine navigation and watch procedures while transiting the Mediterranean Sea.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The Navy’s concern extends beyond sheer numbers, as the multi-mission capability of the Ohio-class SSGNs cannot be easily replicated by the Virginia-class.

    U.S. Fleet Forces Command nuclear examining board members depart USS Georgia (SSGN 729) after an inspection.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    During times of conflict, such as their use in the 2011 operations against Libya, the SSGNs’ capacity to support large ground attacks and naval operations underscored their strategic value.

    161118-N-LY160-025” by U.S. Pacific Fleet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    As the Navy contemplates its future undersea warfare capabilities, discussions about maintaining production lines for large-diameter submarines beyond the Columbia-class program are underway.

    130116-N-GU530-068” by U.S. Pacific Fleet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The introduction of new platforms like the SSN(X), a next-generation attack submarine, is anticipated to begin in 2030, with delivery expected in 2042. Yet, this does not address the immediate concern of bridging the capability gap left by the retiring Ohio-class SSGNs.

    USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) executes an exchange of command and crews in the Atlantic Ocean.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    In the interim, the Navy plans to extend the lives of up to five Ohio-class SSBNs, offering a buffer for the surge requirements set by U.S. Strategic Command. However, this is merely a stopgap measure, with a definitive replacement for the SSGNs’ unique abilities potentially decades away.

    Relevant articles:
    The End of the Ohio-Class SSGN Submarines Is Big Trouble for the Navy, The National Interest
    class SSGN Now Only Two Years Away, Naval News
    The U.S. Navy’s Great Ohio-Class Submarine Mistake, The National Interest
    Navy Mulling Large Diameter Sub Hulls After 12 Columbias, SSN(X) Requirements Due Next Year, USNI News

    Latest articles

    FN Five-seveN MRD: A New Era in Precision Handguns

    The FN Five-seveN has stood out in the modern firearms landscape for years, known...

    Raytheon’s Breakthrough: Achieving Milestones in the HALO Program

    The United States Navy is enhancing its offensive prowess and strategic vision by developing...

    Significance of Reagan Test Site in US Hypersonic Weapon Testing

    The US Air Force has garnered attention with the successful trial of a prototype...

    The B-21 Raider of the U.S. Air Force Prepares for Deployment Despite Production Hurdles and Hypersonic Competition

    The B-21 Raider, the United States Air Force's new stealth bomber, is edging closer...

    More like this

    FN Five-seveN MRD: A New Era in Precision Handguns

    The FN Five-seveN has stood out in the modern firearms landscape for years, known...

    Raytheon’s Breakthrough: Achieving Milestones in the HALO Program

    The United States Navy is enhancing its offensive prowess and strategic vision by developing...

    Significance of Reagan Test Site in US Hypersonic Weapon Testing

    The US Air Force has garnered attention with the successful trial of a prototype...