The U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) returned to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay following an at-sea training and certification period.
This was the first at-sea period for the vessel’s blue crew since their return to Kings Bay following the boat’s 33-month Engineered Refueling Overhaul (ERO) conducted at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.
The EROs are a complex, major shipyard availability during which the submarine will be refueled and upgraded before returning to support the country’s nuclear deterrence strategy, extending the life of the submarine more than 20 years. The first at-sea period of the vessel after the ERO was successfully completed on Sept. 12.
USS Rhode Island is the 15th Ohio-class submarine commissioned into the U.S. Navy fleet. She is the third U.S. Navy ship to be named for Rhode Island, the 13th state.
Originally, another Ohio-class submarine, SSBN-730, was to have been named Rhode Island. However, shortly after the sudden death of U.S. Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington, SSBN-730 was renamed Henry M. Jackson while still under construction, and the name Rhode Island was transferred to SSBN-740.
The contract to build SSBN-740 was awarded to the General Dynamics Electric (GDEB) in Groton, Connecticut, on 5 January 1988 and her keel was laid down there on 15 September 1988. She was launched on 17 July 1993, sponsored by Mrs. Kati Machtley, and commissioned on 9 July 1994, with Captain John K. Eldridge commanding the Blue Crew and Commander Michael Maxfield commanding the Gold Crew.
The Ohio-class boats, each displacing 18,750 tons submerged, are the third largest submarines in the world, behind the 48,000-ton Typhoon class and 24,000-ton Borei class of the Russian Navy. The Ohio class replaced the Benjamin Franklin- and Lafayette-class SSBNs.
The U.S. Navy has a total of 18 Ohio-class submarines which consist of 14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), and four cruise missile submarines (SSGNs). Each SSBN submarine is armed with up to 24 Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). Each SSGN is capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus a complement of Harpoon missiles to be fired through their torpedo tubes.