USS Ohio (SSGN 726)
USS Ohio (SSGN 726) is the first of her class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and guided missile submarines (SSGNs), and the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear thename.
The Ohio-class SSBN was conceived in the early 1970s as an eventual successor to the original group of 41 SSBNs - the famed "41 For Freedom" - commissioned between 1959 and 1967. At 560 feet, the Ohios became the largest submarines ever built by the U.S. Navy.
Construction on Ohio, the fourth U.S. ship to bear the name, began April 10, 1976 at Groton, Conn., home of General Dynamics Electric Boat. Ohio was launched April 7, 1979 by Annie Glenn, wife of then-U.S. Sen. John H. Glenn.
Ohio officially joined the U.S. Navy on Nov. 11, 1981, at Groton, with Capt. A. K. Thompson (Blue Crew) and Capt. A.F. Campbell (Gold Crew) assuming command. During the commissioning ceremony, Vice President George H.W. Bushtold the 8,000 guests that the Ohio and her class represented a "new dimension in our nation's strategic deterrence."
Ohio began her long association with the Pacific Northwest Aug. 12, 1982, when she arrived at Naval Submarine Base Bangor as the first operational unit permanently assigned to Commander, Submarine Group 9. In October 1982, Ohio began her first strategic deterrent patrol; she would continue to patrol out of Bangor for the next 20 years.
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. But another plan was in the works - to use the versatile Ohio seaframe to carry Tomahawks or other payloads in lieu of ballistic missiles. The result would be four platforms capable of supporting strike or special warfare missions around the world.
Under then plan, 22 Trident launch tubes were reconfigured to carry either canisters containing seven Tomahawks each - for a total of up to 154 missiles - or special operations weapons or equipment. The other two launch tubes were converted to lockout chambers, allowing for the embarkation and deployment of special operations forces such as Navy SEALs.
Ohio completed its conversion and rejoined the fleet on Feb. 7, 2006 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. A year later, she proceeded to Guam to begin the first SSGN forward deployment.
In three decades of service, Ohio has captured the Battle Efficiency Award (Battle "E") multiple times, the most recent coming in 2012.
Today, with 30 years of service in the books, Ohio is as relevant to the nation's defense as ever. Its ability to project power and provide forward presence makes Ohio - and its fellow SSGNs - a key component of our nation's maritime strategy.