Submarines: December 27, 2000

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US Navy ballistic missile subs (SSBNs) are getting old. Four of the 18 Ohio class SSBNs have to be decommissioned, or go through the expensive process of replacing their nuclear fuel and refurbishing the subs. The START treaty also calls for fewer warheads on the Trident ICBMs carried by the Ohio class boats. This could be accomplished by having fewer SSBNs. Otherwise, the number of warheads per Trident missile has to be reduced. This is also an expensive process. One suggestion is to keep the four Ohio SSBNs and modify them to carry 66 SEAL commandoes and 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This conversion would keep the subs in service another twenty years. The converted subs would free attack subs, which carry a smaller number of Tomahawks, for other missions.

 


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