The United States Navy finalized 159 critical specifications for the nation’s next generation ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), the Ohio Replacement, on March 28.
These specifications, in conjunction with the final ship length, translate the Navy’s SSBN requirements to guide engineering and design efforts, ensuring the Ohio Replacement will meet the U.S. strategic deterrence requirements into the 2080s.
“Setting ship length and issuing these critical specifications now allows the Ohio Replacement Program to efficiently focus engineering and design efforts on fulfilling specific warfighting requirements,” said Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. Dave Johnson. “This will result in a more mature ship design at construction start, mitigating schedule and cost risks later in the program.”
The Ohio Replacement’s specifications establish the detailed requirements for every aspect of the submarine, including: hull integrity; propulsion system; mechanical and electrical systems; maintainability and reliability; stealth characteristics; habitability for a mixed gender crew; and weapon systems.
According to the U.S. Navy, the specifications were carefully developed to ensure that the future Ohio Replacement submarine fleet will possess the capabilities and at-sea availability to meet their strategic deterrence mission requirements at the lowest feasible lifetime cost. In many cases, this means re-using proven and cost-effective technologies from other submarine programs.
“We’re looking to borrow as many systems, and components from the Virginia class attack submarine production line as feasible, “said Capt. William Brougham, the Ohio Replacement program manager. “In some cases we can use parts without modification – pumps or valves for instance. In other cases we have to modify parts, which costs less than developing new components. In developing these ship specifications, we pulled as much from the existing Virginia class and Ohio class designs as possible to both reduce costs and reduce risk by incorporating known, tested, and proven components and systems into the Ohio Replacement design.”
It is not a coincidence that the Ohio Replacement will be approximately the same length as the current Ohio class.
“The length and other ship specifications are part of an integrated solution founded on principled design practices, careful consideration of manufacturing, operation, maintenance and logistic support for the life of the class,” said Brougham. “This balances the submarine fleet’s strategic deterrence mission requirements and cost. Additionally, due to similarities to the existing SSBN fleet, the Navy can utilize the existing shore-based infrastructure at Kings Bay, Ga., Bangor, Wash., and Navy shipyards.”
Press Release, April 11, 2014; Image: US Navy