Strategy Page notes (Dec 22 post) that the Navy has awarded a $222 million contract to convert four Ohio-class ballistic missile subs to cruise missile subs. The first, the Ohio herself, is already in drydock. The others, the Florida, the Michigan, and the Georgia, will begin conversion at one-year intervals. The conversions will take about 3 or 4 years, and the subs will recieve their engineered refueling overhauls at the same time.
The contract is actually a modification to a 2002 deal.
The 22 missile tubes also will provide the capability to carry other payloads, such as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and Special Forces equipment.
If you click the pic, you’ll get a large hi-res version. On it you can clearly see a little mini-sub attached behind the sail. I don’t know what it’s for, but I imagine that the SEALs would find it useful.
Strategy Page notes that there’s been talk for some time about converting still-good nuclear subs to other missions instead of scrapping them. Between the end of the Cold War (WW3) and numerous arms-reduction treaties, we dont’ need all those ‘boomers’ any more. I hope this is more than a way to spend some extra cash on the Military-Industrial Complex.
As a side note, the Washington Naval Treaty of 1921 limited the number of capital ships in the world’s navies, and the US scrapped a number of battleships, abandoned the contstruction of more (sinking the uncompleted Colorado-class USS Washington as a gunnery target), and cancelled all of the South Dakota-class battleships and the Constitution-class battle cruisers. Two of those battle cruisers, the Lexington and the Saratoga, were instead completed as aircraft carriers. They were the largest and fastest carriers in the world until the middle of World War 2. That was a conversion project that turned out quite well, especially given battle cruisers’ historical tendency to explode, break in two, and quickly sink with virtually all hands after a hit or two.