SAN DIEGO — The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) along with the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) conducted successful test flights of two Trident II D5 Missiles, March 26. The unarmed test missiles were launched as part of Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO) 28 in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California.
The missiles were launched as a double mission test and were the key element of DASO 28, which marked the 166th and 167th successful test flights of the Trident II D5 missile since its introduction to the Fleet in 1989. The primary objective of the DASO is to evaluate and demonstrate the readiness of the SSBN’s strategic weapon system and crew before operational deployment following midlife refueling overhaul.
SSP, along with Naval Ordnance Test Unit, oversees the DASO certification process and provide integrated testing and evaluation capabilities, while various other organizations provide support. More than 130 special guests were invited aboard USNS Waters (T-AGS 45), a Military Sealift Command (MSC) vessel, to witness the event and learn more about SSP and the DASO process.
“The successful completion of DASO 28 was not only an important milestone in USS Nebraska’s return to service, but also an important demonstration of the reliable and credible sea-based leg of the U.S. nuclear deterrent triad,” said Capt. Mark Behning, Deputy Director, SSP.
Waters is an MSC vessel that provides support during the DASO launch as part of her mission. Instrumentation and personnel, such as engineers and scientists, are embarked aboard Waters to track the submarine and missile throughout the launch process. Capt. Mike Elmstrom, commanding officer, Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) and his crew took part in the design modifications of the D5 missiles and planning the test.
“Team SWFPAC put in many hours assembling, preparing and loading these flight test missiles,” said Elmstrom. “This is a great opportunity for many of us to see the results of those impressive efforts.”
Guests who watched the launch aboard Waters said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The launch was one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen,” said Allen Beermann, Executive Director, Nebraska Press Association. “It was truly an experience of a lifetime and I am glad I was invited to attend this wonderful event.”
USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) is the 14th submarine of the Ohio-class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), and the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. Assigned to Submarine Group 9, Nebraska is one of eight ballistic-missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash.
The mission of the SSBN force is strategic deterrence, by providing the United States with its most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability. Ohio-class submarines serve as an undetectable launch platform for submarine launched ballistic missiles. They are considered the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad; the other legs being long-range bombers and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.