by Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, USN

Unlike other U.S. submarines that can only carry a small compliment of SOF, SSGNs can carry up to 100 SOF operators and their equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Feb. 7, 2006 the special-operations/guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN-726) returned to active duty, her crew anticipating a spectrum of operations and adversaries that no one could have predicted when she was first commissioned in November 1981. Then, at the height of the Cold War, Ohio was armed with 24 of the most powerful weapons ever conceived and was a vital component of the Nation’s “Triad” of nuclear deterrence – along with land-based missiles and manned bombers – against a seemingly implacable Soviet Union.

Today, Ohio represents a significant milestone in transforming our Joint Force for the “long war” that the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) predicts as the future of America’s military. Ohio
and her three modified-sister SSBNs, which will soon rejoin the operating forces as SSGNs, will be instrumental in helping to wage what the QDR calls “long-duration unconventional warfare,
counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and military support for stabilization and reconstruction efforts.”

In this regard, and from the vantage point of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I want to underscore three key points as the Submarine Force charts its course for a future laid out in the QDR.

Leadership

My first point is to celebrate and congratulate the far-sighted leaders of the past whose foresight and hard work made this SSGN both possible and affordable. For more than two decades, the Ohio-class submarine – and the associated training and maintenance systems ashore and afloat – have been the “crown jewel” of the deterrent capability of our Joint Force. Designed with more than 40 years of certified hull life...incorporating the stealthiest reactor plant ever...built with care at Electric Boat by skilled artisans from throughout the submarine industrial base…and maintained and operated by some of the most motivated and dedicated Sailors found in our Navy – the Ohio-class submarine remains a unique national asset for tailored deterrence, this time against different, more ambiguous, but still- dangerous foes.

Without the margin for growth, scalability, and change – as well as the superlative maintenance record – we would never have considered transforming these platforms into new uses for the Joint Force.

Such innovative leadership like this will be critical to maintaining and expanding the capability provided by the SSGN and her associated weapons systems and elite warriors. So this is no time to rest on our laurels.

 

 

 

 

Adm. Edmund Giambastiani returns a salute during the return to service ceremony for USS Ohio (SSGN-726) at Naval Base Kitsap.

Photo describes in previous caption.

Innovation

Secondly, I want to salute the innovation and hard work of the Undersea Enterprise during the last decade, which worked together as a team to bring this capability to fruition. By Undersea Enterprise I mean not only operational submariners and their uniformed and civilian leaders but also our acquisition professionals and our partners in government laboratories and in industry.

As it became clear during the last decade that U.S. strategic requirements were more than satisfied by a strategic ballistic missile submarine force of 18 Ohio-class SSBNs, this Undersea Enterprise worked diligently to imagine – and then create – an SSGN capability encompassing submerged strike, robust SOF deployment and command and control elements, and enhanced organic reconnaissance. From initial concept discussions through detailed concept of operations development, to detailed drawings by engineers and naval architects, and ultimately “bending steel,” this evolution of USS Ohio from SSBN to SSGN is a case study in transforming military
capabilities...on time, within budget, and with all technical, engineering, and operational objectives met.

Additionally, this “innovation in stride” is an example of how the Department of Defense can effect major change rapidly. The SSGN concept was endorsed in the 2001 QDR, released in September 2001, and promptly programmed into the 2003 President’s Budget which was submitted in February 2002. Almost exactly four years later, USS Ohio returned to service with this new capability ready for delivery to the Fleet. This is a model for how to rapidly inject major transformational capabilities into the Joint Force and is both a credit to the Undersea Enterprise and an example for others to follow.


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