The US Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) has left from the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to engage in its first strategic deterrent mission since 2011.
USS Kentucky will take part in a strategic patrol mission following the completion of an engineered refuelling overhaul (ERO), which spanned for a period of 40 months to extend the functionality of the vessel for another 20 years.
Submarine Group 9 Commander Jeffrey Smith said: "It was well-maintained by its crews, but the reality is that things break and get old. When I took command in December of 2011, the ship and the crew were tired.
"They desperately needed the engineered refuelling overhaul because it is a rebirth for both the ship and the crew. We looked at the whole process as a re-commissioning."
Following the overhaul work, the vessel and its crew were subjected to three major certifications, which included a command and control exercise to exhibit the ability to execute missions and accomplish mission related tasks.
The second in line was the demonstration and shakedown operations (DASO) which determined the crew’s operational ability to handle the weapon systems.
This certification exercise witnessed USS Kentucky launching two D5 Trident missiles off the coast of San Diego.
The 560ft-long submarine is propelled by a single nuclear reactor, and can achieve a speed of more than 20k.
The vessel is equipped with artillery of 24 tubes for Trident I and II missiles, Mk-48 torpedoes and four torpedo tubes.
USS Kentucky has been instrumental in 91 strategic deterrent patrols, and was deployed to combat potential nuclear threats by leveraging on safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent force.
The existing Ohio vessels will be replaced with next-generation Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines.
Image: Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) departs Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R Gray/Released.