The sixth honourable ship in the U.S. Navy to carry the state of Florida’s name is the USS Florida (SSBN-728/SSGN-728). This Ohio-class submarine, originally commissioned as SSBN-728, saw an enormous transformation from a ballistic missile submarine to a powerful cruise missile submarine. The ship was renamed SSGN-728 as part of this upgrade.
The USS Florida (SSGN-728) is a submarine of the Ohio class, known for its powerful prowess. The submarine has a displacement of 16,764 long tonnes when surfaced and 18,750 long tonnes when submerged. Its dimensions are 560 feet long, 42 feet wide, and 38 feet deep. With a strong propulsion system that allows it to reach speeds of over 25 knots, it has a single S8G PWR nuclear reactor that has a 93.5% high-enriched uranium content. It also has two geared turbines, an auxiliary motor that can produce 325 horsepower and a shaft that can produce 60,000 shp (45,000 kW).
Four 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes and an amazing 154 BGM-109 Tomahawk missiles, arrayed in 22 groups of seven, are among the USS Florida’s many stealth and adaptability features. With this arsenal, the submarine can engage targets above and below the surface with accuracy and potency, giving it tremendous strike capabilities.
Operationally, the USS Florida shows that it can operate at considerable depths, as evidenced by its test depth of more than 800 feet (240 metres). The crew’s composition, which reflects the complexity of submarine operations and the requirement for a talented and committed team, consists of 15 officers and 140 enlisted members.
The operational and service history of USS Florida (SSGN-728) is extensive. Florida arrived in Bangor, Washington, via the Panama Canal in 1984, having completed shakedown and demonstration operations. By July of the same year, Florida had conducted its first strategic deterrent patrol.
As of November 2002, Florida had earned the Battle E award several times, most notably in 1989, 1991, 1994, 1999, and 2002, and had successfully performed 61 strategic deterrent patrols. The sub was given the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award in 1991.
Commander Gregory M. Billy took over as commander in August 1997 after the aforementioned change. Florida joined Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 2003 to undergo SSBN to SSGN conversion and refuelling. After the refit was finished in April 2006, the submarine was returned to its home base at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia. Naval Station Mayport in Florida held a recommissioning ceremony in May 2006.
Florida made a major contribution to Operation Odyssey Dawn in March 2011 by launching Tomahawk missiles against targets for Libyan air defence, which was the first time the Florida or any other Ohio-class submarine had engaged in battle. During the mission, Florida fired 93 Tomahawk missiles in total.