KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- USS Maryland (SSBN 738) (Gold) conducted two Follow-on Commander's Evaluation Test (FCET) resulting in the successful flight of two Trident II D5 missiles, June 8 and 9.
The missile flights of FCET-42 and FCET-43 mark the 131st, 132nd, 133rd and 134th consecutive successful Trident II D5 and provide valuable information on operational reliability, accuracy, and performance factors of the missile system.
The Trident II D5 fleet ballistic-missile is the latest generation of submarine launched ballistic missiles following in the success of the Polaris, Poseidon, and Trident I C4 programs; providing increased firepower, flexibility, and assurance to the strategic deterrence mission.
Maryland's outstanding performance during the FCET's demonstrates that the ballistic missile submarines remain ready and vigilant, in a secure and survivable posture, able to rapidly respond to national tasking. The stealth, agility, payload and persistence of the submarines, in combination with the skill of the submariners, keep the SSBNs undetectable and, therefore, the only survivable nuclear deterrent platform in the United States arsenal.
An FCET starts with a currently underway submarine being randomly chosen to launch a missile; the scenario is set just as if the action was necessary for national defense. While conducting their normal patrol, Maryland receives the message to launch their missiles. The boat returns to its homeport to convert from a tactile weapons configuration to a test configuration and returns to sea. The submarine and crew receive a training message to launch their missiles. The crew mans Battle Stations Missile and the ultimate test of the most powerful missile in the fleet begins.
The event is videotaped, watched live in Washington and monitored by Navy Strategic Systems Program (SSP). SSP is the Navy's manager for all aspects; development, manufacture and support of the Trident weapons systems. The test is conducted to verify the reliability of the missile and its launch systems. The missile is targeted to a special weapons range and there are a number of safety features and redundancies in place to insure the missile stays on its predetermined course.
"The Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic, Naval Ordnance Test Unit, Lockheed Martin and a number of contractors all make a huge effort to ensure the safety and realism of this test," said Lt. Cmdr. Shaun Servaes, weapons officer, Submarine Squadron 20. "An SSBN crew's mission is deterrence but this test of their weapons' system is proof that if called upon for national defense, they are ready."
The successful launches add to an already impressive list of achievements for the "Fighting Mary" which was awarded the 2009 Battle "E" ,the second consecutive award for Maryland, Engineering "E", Communications "C", Damage Control "DC" and the Navigational "N" for excellence in those departments.
The submarine also earned the prestigious Omaha Trophy, presented by United States Strategic Command for 2008, in recognition of Maryland's Blue and Gold crews combined superior effort in maintaining Maryland at the highest level of readiness and safety.
For more news from Commander, Submarine Group 10, visit www.navy.mil/local/csg10/.