Published on May 23rd, 2015 | by The Kitsap Scene0
USS Alabama (SSBN 731) celebrates 30th anniversary
By Petty Officer 1st Class Kenneth Takada
BANGOR, Wash. – At 7:31a.m., the Blue and Gold crews of USS Alabama (SSBN 731) celebrated the ship’s 30th anniversary with a small ceremony at Naval Base Kitsap – Bangor.
With this milestone, Alabama becomes the second active Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine to go beyond its originally planned 30-year service life.
“Today was originally supposed to be our decommissioning date,” said Cmdr. Paul Reinhardt, Alabama Blue crew commanding officer. “Due to the Ohio-class submarine replacement remaining in development, Alabama has been extended for another 12 years, so she’ll now be in commission for 42 years. “
When Alabama was commissioned May 25, 1985, it had an anticipated service life of 30 years. However, in 1990, after an exhaustive engineering analysis, Navy leadership decided to extend the total service life of the Ohio-class SSBNs to 42 years.
USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730) was the first Ohio-class SSBN to reach the 30-year service milestone last fall, with Alabama being the second. The rest of the class is expected to follow in the coming years.
When a ship is extended past the original service life, it enters uncharted territory when an additional 12 years of patrols are added on, especially regarding existing maintenance procedures. “There are some discussions about changing some of the procedures,” said Reinhardt. “Right now, it’s condition-based vs. periodic or time-based.”
Though Ohio-class SSBNs will continue to provide our nation’s critical strategic deterrence beyond what it was originally designed for, the new class of ballistic missile submarines is on the forefront of the minds of our Navy’s leadership.
“This is a very significant in the ship’s history and also for the Navy. These ships will make it to 42 years, they have to; it’s imperative that they do to fulfill our mission,” said Reinhardt. “What helps us get there is the hard work of our Sailors, our partners in the fleet, and the support of our families and crew to get it done.”
For more news from Commander, Submarine Group 9, visit www.navy.mil/local/csg9/.