The US Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) has launched an unarmed Trident II D5 missile off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The test flight of the missile was performed in partnership with the US Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs (SSP).
It was undertaken as part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, designated DASO 29.
A DASO is aimed at testing the readiness of the SSBN’s strategic weapon system and crew before operational deployment.
The Trident II D5 missile, which was introduced to the fleet in 1989, is the latest generation of the US Navy’s submarine-launched fleet ballistic missiles.
The latest launch marks the 172nd successful test flight of the ballistic missile.
Submarine Group 10 commander rear admiral Michael Bernacchi said: “I’m incredibly proud of Team King’s Bay and the Rhode Island crew. They’ve spent the last nine months preparing for this test and the patrols that will follow. Because of their hard work and dedication, our sea-based deterrent remains the most survivable and reliable in the world.”
The Ohio-class SSBN ships are designed to carry up to 20 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The navy’s 14 ageing Ohio-class submarines are set to be replaced by 12 Columbia-class submarines.
SSBN 740 is the fourth vessel to be named after Rhode Island and completed its engineered refuelling overhaul (ERO) in August, extending its life by more than 20 years.
The ERO involves refuelling and upgrading the submarine during the vessel’s shipyard availability before the ship returns to support the country’s nuclear deterrence strategy.
SSP deputy director captain Mark Behning said: “USS Rhode Island’s successful test flight today demonstrates not only that this ship’s crew and shipboard weapons system are ready to return to service, but also that the sea-based leg of our nuclear deterrent remains ready, reliable and credible.”