Friday, December 30, 2005

USS Ohio Completes Sea Trials (Sort Of)

Here is the long awaited USS Ohio (SSGN 726) Sea Trials post.

First, in answer to bubblehead's question, I don't know. I was still busy wrapping up a test form and didn't even know they put that broom up until I read his post. I am guessing that his first initial is "C" and his last one is "O".

Were I crewmember I would be mighty embarassed. And, no, there was not a "clean sweep of the testing". Some tests remain outstanding. In fact, I think that I am either the only, or one of very few, test engineers who did complete all assigned tests.

For the most part everything works well. The boat itself is as safe as a submarine can be, having successfully completed all of the propulsion and hull integrity test (speed runs, crash backs, deep dives, etc.). Navigation systems work as advertised. The torpedo and sonar systems work too. Other weapons systems look good so far, but there is still a modernization period to get through.

Those racks in SOF berthing in Missile Compartment, 2nd platform, port, are terrible. The inboard racks are not too bad, but the outboard ones are completely closed off. To get into one you have to hoist yourself in the end feet first (if in the lower or middile racks), or head first (if in the top rack). There are no handholds to lift yourself up with. The middle rack guy has it the worst, not high enough to climb up to, to high to raise both feet into simultaneously. And then the coefficient of friction between clothing and bed linen (serious wedgie problem). Seeing a 250 - 300 pound Navy SEAL do this is going to be fun (need to get video).

There are still a few rough edges to work out. The new variable ballast capability is not working quite as planned and will need adjustment. This is nothing like a show stopper. This fix will be plenty doable.

Other capabilities await testing as development continues. SACS technology will continue to advance. It works perfectly now. I was a crewmember of USS Georgia (SSGN 729) during Silent Hammer and have video of a SACS being successfully released. It hasn't been released from a post-conversion ship yet, but there will be no problem. These are released from flexible payload modules that are inserted into the missile tube and capable of carrying more than one SACS at a time. The tomahawks are in removable cannisters in many of the tubes. The result is a massively reconfigurable ship (yes, ship). The payloads for the SACS are still to be refined.

The time is coming soon when we will have this ship actually going out on missions. While there is still Trident weeniehood onboard, it will decline quickly under pressure of actual missions. How that will affect Trident weaniehood at Squadron is anybody's guess.

At $440 million per copy, you the taxpayer are getting what is probably the most important addition to our defense capability in several decades, and a good deal.

The ship has been delivered to the Navy.

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