Naval Warfare

US Navy Nuclear Submariner explains what Ohio-class SSBN crews are supposed to do afterwards if they really did finish launching their ICBMs

Ohio-class SSBN.

The Ohio-class SSBN was conceived in the early 1970s and at 560 feet, they became the largest submarines ever built by the US Navy.

USS Ohio (SSGN 726, the first of her class of ballistic missile submarines [SSBNs] and guided missile submarines [SSGNs], and the fourth US Navy ship to bear the name) joined the US Navy on Nov. 11, 1981.

With the end of the Cold War, the first four Ohio-class SSBNs – Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Georgia – were scheduled to be decommissioned in the early 2000s. The other 14 would remain in service as SSBNs carrying the Trident II D-5 missile.

Ohio-class SSBN launching ICBMs

What are US Navy Ohio-class SSBN submarine crews supposed to do afterwards if they really did finish launching their ICBMs?

Steve McDermott, US Navy Nuclear Submariner on Ohio-class SSBNs, explains on Quora;

‘This is assuming a full launch of all loaded missile tubes.

‘Clear datum and go deep. Run. Run as fast and as quiet as possible. What’s left of the enemy or their allies will be in a murderous rage to sink your boat.

‘Psychologically, most, if not the entire crew will have some serious remorse. Killing millions indiscriminately is not really a life goal for anyone, especially a vetted and trained submariner. There may be some attempt by one or two crew to scuttle the ship due to grief. And they may succeed.

‘Depending on where in her patrol cycle she is, she may have to pull in somewhere as early as a couple of weeks. Her remaining sea time will be fraught with danger from within and out.

God help the Ohio-class SSBN crew that ever launch ICBMs

‘She will be lucky to pull in to a friendly port. The best they can hope for is an On The Beach scenario.

‘I know it’s much more morbid than discussing how to rearm (yeah, right) or rolling over into an attack sub mode (SSBNs are real light on fire control compared to an SSN) and one would have to get lucky to survive an undersea encounter.

‘There would be no reason to lash a broom to the #1 scope coming into port, if there’s a port to return to. No reason to announce you’re the last line of defense and you failed miserably.’

McDermott concludes;

‘Those birds can fly, and we prove it regularly to ensure the rest of the world knows we can make them fly. God help the crew that ever launch them, because there will likely be no one else they know to help.’

USS Ohio (SSGN 726)

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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