US ballistic missile submarine Rhode Island returns from sea trials

Photo: US Navy

The US Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) returned to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, on September 12, after successfully completing its first at-sea period in two-and-a-half years.

Rhode Island recently wrapped up a 33-month engineered refueling overhaul (ERO), which will extend the life of the submarine for another 20 years.

The 15 days at sea tested every aspect of the boat’s integrity after its ERO at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.

Preparing for sea trials requires the crew to work long days including fast cruises, where the boat stays in port but the crew drills like they are at sea, testing their ability to respond in scenarios like damage control and combat systems drills.

Sea trials recertifies the hull at test depth and also tests and certifies their tactical weapons and propulsion systems. The crew also continues to work on the proficiency and training.

Rhode Island will undergo more system upgrades and certifications to be ready for a full patrol in about one year. The crew will soon complete a crew split, where the boat divides into a submarine’s usual “blue” and “gold” crews, from their one “green” crew that was maintained during their shipyard period.

The boat is one of five ballistic-missile submarines stationed at the base and is capable of carrying up to 20 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with multiple warheads.

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