|For more than 45
years, the Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) organization has
served our nation's defense and contributed uniquely to the
preservation of universal stability by deploying the most
effective deterrent to global war the world has ever
known. It all began with the POLARIS program under the direction
of RADM William F. "Red" Raborn and continues today in
supporting the unmatched capability embodied in 18 Ohio
(SSBN-726)-class TRIDENT submarines, which carry TRIDENT I and
II Fleet Ballistic Missiles.
The impetus for the development
of the initial POLARIS Weapon System was one of grave national
urgency. The Soviet Union had already demonstrated a ballistic
missile capability and would soon launch - ahead of the United
States - the first earth-orbiting satellite. The pressure was on
to acquire our own defensive arsenal of ballistic missiles. To
address this challenge, the Navy created the Special Projects
Office and gave its efforts absolutely top priority over all
other activities of the service. RADM Raborn, a naval aviator,
was handpicked to oversee development of the Navy's first
operational submarine-launched ballistic missile system. As
Raborn himself said, "Our first job was to create a wholly
new kind of team that could develop and build a revolutionary
weapon concept... in record time."
A nationwide industry team was
quickly assembled, introduced to the goal, and made full
partners in the endeavor. Over 20,000 industry personnel and
government employees were welded together into a cohesive team,
which produced in an extraordinarily short time one of the most
revolutionary weapon systems ever devised.
This new system, POLARIS,
eventually evolved through three generations, each of which
provided additional capabilities to the nation's deterrent
force. Later, as anti-ballistic missile technology advanced, the
Navy developed POSEIDON, the first ballistic missile to carry
multiple, independently-targeted reentry vehicles, or MIRVs.
POSEIDON was followed by TRIDENT I, a missile with greater
range. Then in 1983, the further development of TRIDENT II was
approved and funded to create the first submarine launched
ballistic missile (SLBM) with the capability to threaten
hardened targets, including land-based missiles stored in
recipient of the Raborn Award is the Strategic Systems
Programs Program Management Office (NAVPMOSSP),
Sunnyvale, CA (SPL). Pictured from left to right are:
MTCM(SS) Rick LaFave, Command Master Chief, SSP; MTCM(SS)
Steve Perry, Command Master Chief, PMOSSP; RADM Dennis
Dwyer, Director, SSP; Mr. Dick Kohl, Chief Engineer,
PMOSSP; CDR Doug White; Commanding Officer, PMOSSP; CDR
Luis Alvarez, Executive Officer, PMOSSP; STSCS(SS) Keith
Post, Command Career Counselor, SSP.
Arkie Willhite, of SPL, LCDR Gary Sweany, and LCDR Jim
Melvin review the Third Stage Eject Motor and forward
motor dome characteristics of a TRIDENT missile.
Achieving the announced goal of
fielding a ballistic missile system in just five years, RADM
Raborn credited the project's success to his unique handpicked
civilian, military, and contractor team. As he noted in 1978,
"This whole contractual family is a completely dedicated
group of people... a truly magnificent military-industrial
partnership [in which] performance was obtained by cultivating a
real team spirit and effort."
From the beginning of the program
in 1955 until today, the civilian, military, and contractor
make-up of the SSP team has been maintained as a key element in
continuing the tradition of excellence first established at the
outset. It is in RADM Raborn's honor that the annual Raborn
Award has been established to provide commands within SSP a
means to highlight their successes and accomplishments during
each year-long period. It showcases the dynamic civilian,
military, and contractor composition of the SSP team and
recognizes outstanding performance in the basic areas of SSP's
expertise. The inaugural recipient of the Raborn Award is the
SSP Program Management Office (NAVPMOSSP), Sunnyvale, CA (SPL).
SPL has demonstrated an incredible level of technical knowledge,
professionalism, and dedication to the team effort - the very
philosophy inspired by RADM W. F. "Red" Raborn over
four decades ago.
A row of launch tubes at Bangor, Washington, commonly
referred to as the "Alaskan Pipeline,"
awaiting installation on USS Alaska.
Sunnyvale: Meeting the Challenge
Responsible for program management in the field and providing
onsite development, coordination, and maintenance of the Fleet
Ballistic Missile (FBM) program for the SSP Director, SPL is
co-located with SSP's prime missile contractor, Lockheed Martin
Space Systems Company, Missiles & Space Operations (LMSSC-MSO)
and the launcher prime contractor, Northrop Grumman Marine
Systems (NGMS). These three organizations represent the core of
the government-contractor team concept that has implemented the
SSP philosophy from the program's beginning in 1955.
SPL provides technical,
logistical, and administrative support to ensure conformance to
the contracts assigned to them through all phases of the
program. Additionally, they are responsible for configuration
management, subsystem qualification, integrated test, and the
other engineering-management processes necessary in fielding and
maintaining the missile, launcher, and reentry body subsystems.
The last production of the TRIDENT D5 Test Missile Kit (TMK)
took place in the early 1990s. The current TMK design is
obsolete and would be too costly to build today. Because of
these factors, SSP and Lockheed Martin have begun to design a
To produce a reliable TMK costing
only a targeted one-quarter of the earlier price, the SSP team
is taking advantage of advances in technology and
Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) equipment. This necessitates
some very difficult flight-qualification and product-acceptance
testing, as well as creating configuration management processes
that the Government-Contractor FBM teams have never exercised
before. SPL is working closely with these teams to ensure that
the follow-on TMK meets all its requirements. Through new and
innovative thinking, the team is making great strides towards
completing an updated design that will deliver future TMK
performance as high as it is today.
The MK4 nuclear weapon reentry body assemblies (RBAs) of the
Trident II (D5) submarine-launched ballistic missile will soon
reach the end of their original 20-year service lives.
coordinated program between the Department of Defense (DOD) and
the Department of Energy (DOE) is underway to extend the life of
the MK4 RBA for an additional 30 years. Known as the MK4A
refurbishment, this critical undertaking will benefit from the
first-rate leadership of SPL's engineers.
Last minute inspections. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
prepares to pull a C4 Launch Tube from the USS Alaska
using the EB-supplied jacking/pulling fixture.
Jacking of the C4 Launch Tube is almost complete.
Connecting to the jacking/pulling fixture, the PSNS
crane completes the launch tube removal.
cradle. C4 Launch Tube removal is complete and ready for
lay-down on the flatbed trailer.
SPL is involved in aging
evaluations and tradeoff studies to determine which RBA
components need to be replaced and which can be reused, while
still maintaining reliability and effectiveness, improving
nuclear surety, and retaining current dimensions and interfaces
at minimal cost. Also, SPL will coordinate the complex flow of
hardware across the nation between DOD and DOE facilities to
facilitate the delivery (continued on page 31) of deployable
MK4A RBAs to the Ohio-class SSBN force.
Support In preparation for the replacement of TRIDENT C4
missiles by D5s, SPL manages the logistics of moving
missile-support equipment to the Strategic Weapons Facility,
Pacific (SWFPAC) for its new role in D5 Activation. This
equipment is essential in converting SWFPAC from a TRIDENT I
(C4) facility to one that can handle TRIDENT II (D5) weapons. By
coordinating among contractor and government entities, SPL
employees have resolved many potential problems, such as
spare-parts issues common to both D5 Special Test
Equipment/Special Mechanical Equipment and C4 support equipment
managed by the Navy inventory control point. In an associated
effort for the D5 Activation at SWFPAC, SPL coordinates with the
Contractor Inventory Managers (CIMs) to streamline the disposal
process for C4 missiles in order to clear storage space for the
SPL has expanded Camp Navajo,
Arizona, to include storage of C4 motors prior to their transfer
to the disposal range. Other items now stored at, or which pass
through, Camp Navajo include propellants and missile hardware
being transferred to and from the weapons facilities at the
Eastern Test Range in support of the D5 Activation.
Additionally, arrangements have been made to store other items
for SSP branches.
A team of Navy engineers and logisticians is finishing
production of the D5 launch system and TRIDENT II launcher
support equipment to support backfit conversions on two TRIDENT
I boats. Now complete, 48 launch tubes were produced over a
period of 44 months. Restarting production after a gap of more
than five years was a daunting task, which required a major
supplier re-qualification effort for critical items and
manufacturing a qualification sample before tactical production.
The effort paid off - the launch tubes produced today meet the
stringent quality and tolerance criteria originally developed
during the TRIDENT II production, and they are being produced
ahead of schedule and within greater budget constraints.
Located in Magna, Utah, SPL(B) is a detachment of PMO Sunnyvale,
and consists of 18 civil-service employees and one military
Officer-In-Charge, who oversee TRIDENT II (D5) rocket-motor
production and delivery for TRIDENT II submarines and
rocket-motor transportation and disposal for the TRIDENT I
Serving as technical field
experts for SSP, they provide life-cycle support for all three
rocket-motor stages of the D5 missile. The biggest challenge
facing SPL(B) is maintaining a business base of critical
suppliers. As rocket motor production rates decrease, the
profitability of making motor materials falls also. Several
suppliers have discontinued production of critical materials,
resulting in the need for re-qualification of many new
suppliers. This is a challenging task for all concerned, and as
the TRIDENT submarine hull life is extended to 42 years, it will
become even more difficult to ensure that propellant suppliers
will be able to meet the need for future missile
Everyone associated with the
Strategic Systems Programs organization is deeply aware of his
or her individual responsibility for ensuring the future
viability of our nation's submarine-launched strategic
deterrent. The incredible level of technical knowledge,
professionalism, and teamwork shown by SPL and its unique
community of Navy civilians, military personnel, and contractors
makes clear that "Red" Raborn's SSP ethos is still
alive and well.
RADM Dennis M. Dwyer is the
Strategic Systems Programs.