Admiral Reynolds, admirals, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It’s my pleasure to be here today to provide you an update on the OHIO Class SSGN Conversion Program. A century ago, the battleship was the capital ship of the world’s navies, and the Royal Navy’s DREADNOUGHT ushered in a revolution in naval warfare. Between 1900 and 1912, the United States commissioned 29 battleships. Four of those ships were named in honor of the states Ohio, Michigan, Florida, and Georgia. Eight decades later, a new class of capital ship, the OHIO Class SSBN, assumed a key role in providing strategic deterrence for the United States. The first four ships of the class were named OHIO, MICHIGAN, FLORIDA, and GEORGIA, and they have performed magnificently in their nuclear deterrent role. Over the next four years, these ships will be converted into OHIO Class SSGNs -ships with the potential to revolutionize naval warfare at the start of the 21a century, just as DREADNOUGHT did a century ago.
The concept of strategic deterrence is broadening to include non-nuclear strike capabilities, and these four submarines will constitute a potent deterrent -fielded quickly and affordably. They will provide conventional strike and special operations capability from stealthy platforms with unequaled payload, endurance, and connectivity. The OHIO Class SSGN program leverages a substantial investment already made in these submarines and their infrastructure. SSGNs can carry out commitments that now require multiple platforms in theater, freeing up these assets for other assignments. Finally, these ships will have the payload volume to serve as test beds for new weapons and sensors that will be used throughout the Submarine Force.
The OHIO Class SSGN Program will transform the existing SSBNs into SSGNs by installing systems that can be classed into three groups. The first group consists of the equipment for a sustained SOF campaign. As depicted on the slide, this includes Dual Lockout Chambers, systems needed to host Dual Dry Deck Shelters or Dual Advanced SEAL Delivery Systems, internal and external stowage, and dedicated berthing and fitness facilities. The second group comprises the Attack Weapons System, which provides fire control and launch for up to 154 Block III or Tactical Tomahawk missiles housed in up to 22 Multiple All-Up-Round Canisters or MACs. The third group provides a major upgrade in mission planning capability and connectivity through the installation of the Common Submarine Radio Room, new masts and antennas, including the Submarine High Data Rate Antenna. and a complete rearrangement of the existing Nav Center into a Battle Management Center hosting Command and Control and Mission Planning spaces.
There’s a lot of activity that goes on behind the scenes to get a new acquisition program going. The good news is the rapid pace of progression from concept exploration to a formal decision to initiate the SSGN program. The initial review of the SSGN program occurred in October 2001, where the Office of the Secretary of Defense concurred with Navy plans for a single acquisition milestone. In January 2002, the Acquisition Strategy was approved. allowing preliminary design activities and refueling overhaul planning to proceed. Over the next several months, a fonnal program cost estimate was developed. Once this and other statutory requirements were met, the Defense Acquisition Board or DAB reviewed the program, and Secretary Aldridge authorized detail design, long lead time material procurement, and the two Fiscal Year 2003 refueling overhauls. This authorization was crucial to beginning detail design in time to support an aggressive conversion schedule. Finally, the complete package of required acquisition documentation was reviewed by the DAB in November 2002. Electric Boat was designated as the prime contractor for conversion execution, and Secretary Aldridge approved Program Initiation and all four conversions in December 2002. Over a period of less than 14 months, the SSGN Program covered ground that requires 3 to 5 years for a typical acquisition program.
This chart shows the current SSGN program schedule. While it is a bit busy, the main message to carry away is the very short time from today to the Initial Operational Capability or IOC in 2007. To meet the desired IOC date, design, manufacturing, and conversion are being conducted concurrently, using many of the same design tools and processes pioneered by the VIRGINIA Class Attack Submarine program and refined for the Multi-Mission Platfonn upgrade to (SSN 23), JIMMY CARTER. The schedule was revised for the November 2002 Milestone C DAB to achieve several benefits. The schedule risk for SSGNs drydocked at Norfolk Naval Shipyard was reduced. By adjusting the schedules for refueling overhauls and conversions, we were able to optimize the timeline by staggering successive conversions at 6-month intervals. We accelerated delivery of FLORIDA and GEORGIA by six months each. Finally, the overall time that each ship spends in the shipyard was reduced to three years or less. USS OHIO, (SSGN 726), will reach IOC four years from today, with all four ships delivered. This is remarkable considering that the program did not receive its first SCN funding until January 2002.
Overall program execution risk is being reduced by using the key players critical to the success of the OIBO Class SSBN program. Electric Boat is producing the design, and will provide labor and manage the overall effort for conversion manufacturing and for installation work performed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Norfolk Naval Shipyard. For development and procurement of the Attack Weapons System, we are taking advantage of the experience embodied in the government-contractor team led by Strategic Systems Programs, with their proven track record of developing highly reliable missile launch and fire control systems using a disciplined system engineering process.
Very briefly, I’d like to discuss the major contracts for the SSGN program. Strategic Systems Programs is managing the development and procurement of the Attack Weapons System. Northrop Grumman Marine Systems conducted the MAC Demonstration and Validation, which included the two successful Tomahawk firings off of USS FLORIDA this January, and is developing and producing the MAC. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems is developing and producing the Attack Weapons Control System, essentially modifying the existing strategic fire control system to incorporate a Tomahawk fire control system.
General Dynamics Electric Boat is producing the design under a contract awarded last September, and is under contract for portions of the manufacturing, Long Lead Time Material, and installation planning via options and contract mods awarded since September. Contracts for additional effort required for the conversions of SSGN 726 and 728 must be in place in time to start the OHIO conversion in November. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Norfolk Naval Shipyard are conducting the refueling overhauls and providing services, conversion ripout, installation labor, and support for the EB-led conversion effort. Puget Sound is already performing the USS OHIO’s refueling overhaul and the conversion ripout. I was just on the ship Monday-3 days ago -and the work is going very well. A lot of contracting activity in a short time, supported by decisions in the acquisition arena. has been required to support our aggressive program schedule.
The SSGN design has proceeded quickly since last year’s DAB Program Review gave the go-ahead to start detail design. The goal of the effort is to have the design 80% complete by the time OHJO’s conversion begins in November. Some areas of the design, namely those needed to support other design work and ripout conducted in advance of the conversion, are nearing completion. Electric Boat is keeping pace with a very ambitious plan for the remaining design products.
Now that I have given you a picture of the acquisition, key participants, and design status of the program, I’d like to spend a few minutes discussing some of the features of the converted submarine.
Dual 5-man lockout chambers are being installed in Missile Tubes 1 and 2, allowing SEALs to exit the submarine while submerged. The existing 88-inch diameter missile tubes are being cut off at the pressure hull, and 135-inch diameter cylinders are being added to form the transfer trunks. The chamber design also allows access to either the Advanced SEAL Delivery System or the Dry Deck Shelter on the missile deck.
The superstructure is being widened and strengthened to support side-by-side hosting of any dual combination of the ASDS and DDS, and to provide external stowage for combat rubber raiding craft, gasoline bladders, and other SOF gear. Modifications lower in tubes one and two provide for diver rinse-off showers, wet suit drying, equipment storage, and ordnance stowage when the ordnance SOF stowage canisters are not loaded into tubes 5 and 6. With the addition of 66 bunks for SOF personnel -giving SSGN a total of 220 racks, these modifications will provide exceptional capabilities that can be maintained undetected in forward areas and exercised at a time and place of our choosing, contributing to the Sea Basing and Sea Strike components of Sea Power 21.
The remaining missile tubes are being modified to support modular payloads, while flexibility is designed into the system to allow for future payloads. When the conversion is complete, Tubes 3 through 24 will be able to host MACs holding 7 Tomahawk All-Up-Rounds. Tubes 3 through 10 will also be able to host 8 modular SOF stowage canisters, which contribute just less than half of the ship’s overall SOF stowage capacity of8,000 cubic feet. Two of these canisters are dedicated to SOF ordnance -essentially magazines in tubes 5 and 6. With this kind of firepower, this will be the first submarine to be equipped with automatic ordnance sprinkler systems. The design of the modified missile tube provides flexibility needed for longer, heavier, and more flexible weapons and sensors that are sure to follow the Tomahawks supported at delivery. C4 length payloads can be accommodated in all 22 strike tubes, and several will be capable of accepting payloads up to the size of a OS missile. The flexibility, connectivity, and strike payload of SSGN will immediately make it a key player in the Sea Strike arena.
Connectivity to the battle group, local special operations forces, other forces in theater, and a wide range of shore activities is essential to the SSGN’s strike and SOF missions. A variant of the Common Submarine Radio Room is being developed for the SSGN. The SSGN will be part of a robust network of forces, exchanging large amounts of data that allow rapid retargeting. battle damage assessment, and support of operations ashore. Submarine communications is evolving to the point that the communications satellite infrastructure, not the submarine antennas and radio equipment, is controlling throughput. Dual Submarine High Data Rate antennas, an EHF capable periscope, and dual EHF Follow-On Tenninals on the SSGN provide the bandwidth needed for SSGN to be a key player in the networked forces that will operate over the next decades. Four Universal Modular Masts or UMMs will be installed in the sail to host the High Data Rate Antennas and two Multi-function Antennas. The UMMs provide the flexibility to readily incorporate future antennas or to temporarily fit mission specific antennas, such as the Integrated ESM Mast.
The existing SSBN Nav Center is being completely remodeled to support SOF operations and planning for both strike and SOF. The strategic navigation system is being removed and replaced with the Ring Laser Gyro Navigator used on many ships and submarines. The smaller navigation footprint frees up the space needed for equipment and operating stations to monitor and control operations of the Lockout Chambers, Advanced SEAL Delivery System, or Drydeck Shelters, and for displays, storage, LAN drops, and communications equipment needed to plan and supervise both strike and SOF operations: The capability is here to conduct the SSGN’s own operations, and to embark command elements that will enable the SSGN to serve as the Launch Area Coordinator, or to provide robust command and control for special forces operations. The commanders of future Joint Task Forces may operate from this space.
SSGNs will be in demand as soon as they are fielded. An operating cycle has been developed to maximize their availability to the war fighter, while maintaining the ships and providing adequate time for crew training and rest. Like the SSBNs, the SSGNs will have two crews. Unlike the SSBNs, the SSGNs will routinely conduct most of their crew turnovers at forward sites minimizing transit time and maximizing time in-theater. With the planned cycle. two SSGNs can be maintained in theater at all times, with three SSGNs in theater up to 60 percent of the time. represents a tremendous return on the investment we are making now for these conversions. With its unprecedented strike and SOF payload, the SSGN represents a great opportunity for the Submarine Force. It also has the volume and infrastructure to support experimentation with new sensors, weapons, and other payloads. Earlier this year USS FLORIDA participated in the Giant Shadow Exercise, demonstrating the potential for SSGN support of SOF operations. Future experiments are already being planned.
The SSGN provides more than an order-of-magnitude increase in payload volume over existing attack submarines, and its large diameter missile tubes constitute an unequalled “ocean interface” for future weapons and sensors. Equipments that exist today, are already in development, or are still only a concept will benefit from the unrivaled features of the OIIlO Class SSGN.
I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the history, capabilities, and potential of the OIIlO Class SSGN. It will provide exceptional capability at an affordable cost. It is no longer just a concept -the design is maturing, testing has already been conducted, and USS OIIlO is already in overhaul, with conversion scheduled to start this November. A lot of effort, with exceptional support inside and outside of the Navy have allowed for rapid progress on acquisition and contracting front. The available volume and ocean interface on SSGN will be leveraged as future payloads are developed and tested for use throughout the Submarine Force. The bottom line is: SSGN will make the Submarine Force even more crucial to the nation’s defense -and it’s just around the corner.