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USS Florida almost ready to sail again

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Postby TMSmalley » Sat Apr 08, 2006 8:22 am

The Florida, which has been redesignated a guided missile submarine, sails the Elizabeth River to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth on Wednesday. JOHN H. SHEALLY II/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

By KATE WILTROUT, The Virginian-Pilot
© April 6, 2006

PORTSMOUTH - It used prowl the seas with ballistic missiles that could span continents and deliver mushroom clouds.

But the Soviet Union is gone - and so is the need for 18 Cold War-era ballistic missile submarines, each one longer than Virginia Beach Town Center is tall.

So the Florida, built in the early 1980s , has a new mission after three years at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

Instead of launching nuclear warheads that could travel more than 4,000 miles, the refitted sub can now deliver as many as 66 special forces troops close to a target. Twenty-two of its 24 missile tubes - each 8 feet wide and 40 feet long - now can house 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The remaining two tubes store special operations forces' equipment.

Its $1 billion overhaul almost done, the Florida finished two weeks of sea trials Wednesday. The 590 -foot-long submarine sailed down the Elizabeth River to the Portsmouth shipyard, where it will spend a few more weeks before it formally returns to service and its home port of Kings Bay, Ga .

When it returns to service, the sub will have dual crews that will rotate every 100 days. The submarine will stay at sea for a year at a time, said Cmdr. Gregory Ott, the Florida's commanding officer.

The Florida's new inventory of Tomahawks, which can fly about 1,500 miles , likely will be used for more than deterrence. A weapon of choice in the war on terror, the 18-foot long missiles have been used in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. They can be fired from subs or surface ships.

"I think the guys that are driving around the SSBNs don't really think they're ever going to shoot their missiles, whereas on this ship there is a very high probability we will," Ott said.

The Florida is the second SSBN, or ballistic missile submarine, to trade its Trident nuclear warheads for Tomahawks and be redesignated an SSGN, or guided missile submarine. The Ohio, based on the West Coast, was converted in Puget Sound, Wash., and returned to the fleet in February. Two others - the Georgia, now being converted here, and the Michigan - will follow.

Fourteen SSBNs, or "boomers," remain in the fleet.

In its new role, the Florida can serve as a home base for more than just Navy commandos. Ott said the submarine is equipped to handle special operations troops from the Army and Air Force as well. It can host them in style, for an extended period of time, with areas for planning, a laser shooting range and fitness equipment.

Jim Stevens , the submarine program manager at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, said the Florida is the first SSBN the yard has worked on. It won't be the last: The shipyard will be refueling more of the Ohio-class submarines in coming years.

Tim Smalley
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Postby Novagator » Mon Apr 10, 2006 8:26 am

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Postby tabledancer » Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:35 am

Very good,I still think that there is a need for the BOOMERS though. :;):
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Postby sub-nut » Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:19 am

updat on USS Florida

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Postby Desert Boat » Wed Apr 26, 2006 3:22 pm

Now ... let's take these two modified boomers and two more boomers and test them out on Iran. At the same time, have the Pacific assigned boats do the same to North Korea. Then we can get on with our lives and dare the Russians to do anything about it. And, if anyone thinks this is bad ... BOO! :angry:
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