In the aftermath of the START-II arms control treaty, some of the USA’s nuclear-powered Ohio Class SSBN nuclear missile submarines were converted to become long range conventional strike and special operations SSGN “Tactical Tridents.” Four ultra-stealthy Ohio-class SSBNs had their 24 Trident II D-5 nuclear ballistic missiles removed. They were replaced with up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus space in the sub for 66-102 special forces troops, special attachments for new Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) or older Seal Delivery Vehicle (SDV) “mini-subs,” and a mission control center. Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, and even UAVs for aerial operations, are expected to become equally important options over the SSGN fleet’s career.
These modifications provide the USA with an impressive and impressively flexible set of conventional firepower, in a survivable and virtually undetectable platform, which can remain on station for very long periods of time. As surveillance-strike complexes make the near-shore more and more hazardous for conventional ships, and the potential dangers posed by small groups continue to rise, America’s converted SSGN submarines will become more and more valuable. This updated, free-to-view article covers their origins and timeline, the key technologies involved, contracts from the program’s inception to the present day, with all 4 submarines back in service.