PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- USS Ohio (SSGN 726) moored at Naval Station Pearl Harbor Nov. 20 marking the first time the newly-converted guided-missile submarine, or SSGN, has visited the historic port.
"Our motto, 'Always First' truly describes it. Ohio's first at everything we've done; it's great to be first at this," said Command Master Chief (SS) Larry Hamon, Ohio's chief of the boat.
Commissioned in 1981, Ohio was the lead ship of its class designed to carry Trident missiles for strategic deterrence, and was the first ship of its class to have those missiles removed as part of its conversion to SSGN.
The SSGN's primary mission is to clandestinely insert and support special operations forces ashore. It also has the ability to launch precision strikes ashore with Tomahawk missiles.
Both capabilities are increasingly important in the global war on terrororism, said Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, during a return to service ceremony last February.
"This platform has truly been a case study in transforming our military capabilities to meet the future needs of our joint forces," said Giambastiani. "In doing so, the Ohio has proven our concepts are validated as the SSGN prepares for our uncertain future by being on station and providing a forward deployed presence, adaptability and modularity."
Ohio, homeported in Bangor, Wash., is conducting training exercises and work-ups in the Hawaiian islands in preparation for its maiden deployment as an SSGN next year. Dual crews will allow the ship to deploy for extended periods, conducting crew swaps in forward locations. Ohio can carry as many as 154 Tomahawk or Tactical Tomahawk land attack missiles, and can insert, extract and support as many as 102 special operations forces personnel, utilizing either dual dry-deck shelters or the Advanced Seal Delivery System (ASDS). Its onboard command center and state-of-the-art communications systems give it the ability to direct joint operations ashore.
Hamon said it was fitting that Pearl Harbor is Ohio's first port visit as an SSGN.
"This is where submarine history was made," said Hamon. "It's very good for them to see the various landmarks on the old submarine area of the base. This is really where the modern era of submarines began."
Ohio completed its SSGN conversion in February, and USS Florida (SSGN 726) completed its conversion in May. USS Georgia (SSGN 729) and USS Michigan (SSGN 727) are also in the conversion process and are scheduled to return to the fleet over the next two years. After conversion, each submarine is expected to remain in service for 20 years.
For related news, visit the Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/subpac/.