Navy converts submarines into special operations platforms

BREMERTON, Wash., 11 Jan. 2006. General Dynamics Electric Boat has completed its conversion of USS Ohio (SSGN-726), the first of four Trident submarines to be reconfigured as multimission vessels optimized for covert tactical strike and special operations support.

Ohio's conversion, undertaken in conjunction with the ship's midlife refueling, provides the Navy with its first truly transformational platform. Ohio will be joined by three additional Tridents undergoing conversion to SSGNs -- USS Michigan at the shipyard here, and USS Florida and USS Georgia at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia. The conversions are being performed under a $1.4 billion contract awarded to Electric Boat in 2002; work is scheduled for completion in 2007.

Each SSGN will carry up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and support up to 66 Special Operations Forces for an extended time. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Pittsfield, Mass., is the systems integrator for the missile-control system.

SSGNs will also serve as platforms to develop and test new weapons systems, sensors and operational concepts that could further transform naval warfare. These payloads will include large unmanned undersea vehicles and off-board sensors.

"The on-time conversion of USS Ohio from a strategic-missile submarine to a guided-missile and special warfare platform is a tribute to the collective efforts of the men and women of Electric Boat, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the Navy's Strategic Systems Program and the Naval Sea Systems Command SSGN program office," said EB President John Casey. "Their contributions have provided the Navy with a powerful warship that embodies unparalleled capabilities as well as the opportunity to integrate new technologies and payloads in the future."

Casey noted that the conversion -- comprising design, manufacturing, installation and at-sea testing -- was completed only three years after the Navy decided to move forward with the program. "That's a remarkable achievement," he said.

Referring to the overall SSGN conversion program, Casey said, "Work on USS Florida is proceeding smartly -- in fact, its sea trial is on track to follow the lead-ship trial by only three months. This will enable us to provide the U.S. Navy with a second transformational platform over a shorter-than-normal time frame, and at a conversion cost still lower than the lead ship's."

General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 71,900 people worldwide. The company is a market leader in mission-critical information systems and technologies; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and business aviation. For more information, see www.generaldynamics.com or www.gdeb.com.

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