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October 15, 2004

I like this kind of thinking.

I'll leave it up to people with a better understanding of the cost/logistics side of things as to whether or not it's a good use of this particular class of vessel - but I like the implied capabilities for a Combatant Commander to have available.

From Strategy Page today:

SUBMARINES: Commando Sub Experiments

October 15, 2004: The U.S. Navy is conducting experiments with a SSBN (nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine.) The 16,700 ton, 22 year old USS Georgia is a Trident class boat, and normally carries 24 ballistic missiles, and a crew of 154. But the missiles, and the crewmen and equipment needed to maintain them, have been removed. This has created lots of free space. The original plan was to give navy about 60 SEAL commandos most of the now vacant space, and two of the empty missile silos. The other 22 silos would be loaded with 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles. But that plan is being reconsidered as new equipment becomes available. Better communications gear, and more new UAV, UUV (unmanned subs) and USV (unmanned little ships) designs, create new opportunities.

So the Georgia is having a high tech command center built into it, for handling additional robotic recon vehicles, and the operations of the SEALs. This series of submarine alterations and tests at sea is being called “Operation Silent Hammer.”

The nuclear powered Georgia can move, underwater, at a steady rate of about 800 kilometers a day. This means that within a week or ten days, it can reach just about anywhere on earth. Most of the earth’s population lives close to the ocean, and the SEAL sub like the Georgia could get to a hot spot, send off robotic recon vehicles and SEALs to quickly check out the situation. Still carrying about a hundred cruise missiles, the Georgia would still have sufficient firepower to take care of many situations.

If new work is not found for SSBNs like Georgia, they must be scrapped, in compliance with a nuclear disarmament treaty.