SSBN-X future follow-on submarine
The SSBN-X Future Follow-on Submarine is a future United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 designed to replace the Trident missile-armed ballistic missile submarine
Ballistic missile submarine
A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine equipped to launch ballistic missiles .-Description:Ballistic missile submarines are larger than any other type of submarine, in order to accommodate SLBMs such as the Russian R-29 or the American Trident...



The United States Department of Defense anticipates a continued need for a sea-based strategic nuclear force
Nuclear triad
A nuclear triad refers to a nuclear arsenal which consists of three components, traditionally strategic bombers, ICBMs and SLBMs. The purpose of having a three-branched nuclear capability is to significantly reduce the possibility that an enemy could destroy all of a nation's nuclear forces in a...

. The current Ohio class is expected to retire its first vessel by 2029, meaning that a platform must already be seaworthy by that time. A replacement may cost over $4 billion per unit compared to Ohios $2 billion. More recent projections estimate the cost of each submarine as $6 to 8 billion. The Navy is exploring two options. The first is a variant of the nuclear attack submarines. The second is a dedicated SSBN, either with a new hull or based on an overhaul of the current Ohio.

With the cooperation of both Electric Boat
Electric boat
While a significant majority of water vessels are powered by diesel engines, with sail power and gasoline engines also remaining popular, boats powered by electricity have been used for over 120 years. Electric boats were very popular from the 1880s until the 1920s, when the internal combustion...

 and Newport News Shipbuilding, in 2007 the Navy began a cost control study. Then in December 2008 the Navy awarded Electric Boat a contract for the missile compartment design of the Ohio class replacement, worth up to $592 million. Newport News is expected to receive close to 4% of that project. Though the Navy has yet to confirm an Ohio class replacement program, United States Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, as of April 2009, confirms that the Navy should begin such a program in 2010.Newport News contract awarded: Daily Press - Peter Frost The new vessel is scheduled to enter the design phase by 2014. It is anticipated that if a new hull design is used the program must be initiated by 2016 in order to meet the 2029 deadline.Global Security information on Ohio class replacement

Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi had threatened to block the project unless the Navy shares with the Congress an internal Analysis of Alternatives
Analysis of Alternatives
This article refers to the Analysis of Alternatives military process, not the general business practice. The AoA is a cornerstone of Military Acquisition, and deliberately embodies the fair and competitive character of the United States business atmosphere...

. However, Taylor was defeated by Steven Palazzo
Steven Palazzo
Steven McCarty Palazzo is the U.S. Representative for . The district takes in most of Mississippi's share of the Gulf Coast and includes Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Laurel and Hattiesburg. He is a member of the Republican Party. He defeated 10-term Democratic incumbent Gene Taylor with 52% to...

 in the 2010 midterm election.

The high cost of the submarines is expected to cut deeply into Navy shipbuilding.

General characteristics

Although still evolving, the following are some of the ship characteristics for the SSBN(x) design:
  • Expected 40-year service life.
  • Life-of-the-ship nuclear fuel core
    S1B reactor
    The S1B reactor is a naval reactor used by the United States Navy to provide electricity generation and propulsion on OHIO Replacement Program submarines...

     that is sufficient to power the ship for its entire expected service life, unlike the Ohio-class submarines that require a mid-life nuclear refueling.
  • Missile launch tubes that are the same size as those on the Ohio class, with diameter of 87 inches (2.2 m) and a length sufficient to accommodate a D-5 Trident II missile.
  • Ship beam at least as great as the 42 feet (12.8 m) beam of the Ohio-class submarines.
  • 16 missile launch tubes instead of 24 missile launch tubes on Ohio-class submarines.
  • Although the SSBN(X) is to have fewer launch tubes than the Ohio-class submarine, SSBN(X) is expected to have a submerged displacement about the same as that of Ohio-class submarines.

Also, the U.S. Navy has stated that “owing to the unique demands of strategic relevance, [SSBN(X)s] must be fitted with the most up-to-date capabilities and stealth to ensure they are survivable throughout their full 40-year life span.”

Common missile compartment

The U.S. Navy's current plans calls for its SSBN(x) to share a common missile compartment (CMC) design with the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

's proposed replacement
British replacement of the Trident system
The British replacement of Trident is a proposal to replace the existing Vanguard class of four Trident ballistic-missile armed submarines with a new class designed to continue a nuclear deterrent after the current boats reach the end of their service lives...

 for its own Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarine
Vanguard class submarine
The Vanguard class are the Royal Navy's current nuclear ballistic missile submarines , each armed with up to 16 Trident II Submarine-launched ballistic missiles...

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