Sen. Tom Brewer I have been both blessed and honored to have the opportunity to go aboard the USS Nebraska recently. There have been two USS Nebraskans. I would now like to share a little history on both.
The first ship to carry the name USS Nebraska (BB-14) was a Virginia class pre-dreadnought battleship of the United States Navy. The keel laying was July 1902 and she was launched in October 1904. The USS Nebraska joined Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” after it reach the west coast of the states in 1908 and then continued with it during circumnavigating of the globe. It would see service during the Mexican Revolution 1914 to 1916 and supported World War I starting April 1917 to Nov 1919. It was decommissioned in July of 1920.
The current USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) is the 14th of 18 submarines of the Ohio class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), and the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. The keel was laid on July 6, 1987, and she was christened on Aug. 15, 1992 by Mrs. Patricia Exon, wife of U.S. Sen. J. James Exon. Nebraska was commissioned on July 10, 1993 at Groton, Connecticut, and was assigned to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.
The USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) Ballistic Missile submarine is the largest in the US inventory at 560’ long and 42’ wide. It can reach speeds of 25+ submerged and it has 2 full crews that rotate (Blue and Gold crew). Each crew consist of 155 individuals, 15 officers and 140 enlisted.
While stationed on the East Coast, the USS Nebraska completed her first strategic deterrent patrol in August 1994 and became the first Ohio-class submarine to visit Europe and Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1996, Nebraska was honored by U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) as the SSBN recipient of the Omaha Trophy for excellence in strategic deterrence. As part of an effort to balance the nation’s strategic assets, Nebraska shifted her homeport to Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Washington, in October 2008.
The Lethality of the USS Nebraska is its 24 Trident I and II missile tubes and its four 21” torpedo tubes. The mission of the SSBN Force is strategic deterrence by providing the United States with its most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability. Ohio-class submarines serve as the undetectable launch platform for submarine launch ballistic missiles. They are considered the most survivable of the nuclear triad; the other legs being long range bombers of the U S Air Force and the land based intercontinental ballistic missiles. After spending almost 37 years in the Army, this Navy experience was an eye-opener. The Navy has referred to us as Embarkees (A Navy term for people going out to sea that are clueless). I had the chance to experience what it is like to go under the ocean in a submarine, a nuclear powered submarine that has nuclear missiles, (think of it as a very large MRI machine that can blow up a good share of the planet).