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Norfolk Naval Shipyard Completes Missile Operate Sequence Testing in Record Time

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ashley Berumen | Aug. 5, 2020

NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. —

The Strategic Weapons Test team at  Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) successfully completed Missile Operational Sequence Testing aboard the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN 742), setting a record for the fastest completion of a Missile Operate Sequence during an Engineered Refueling Overhaul (ERO).

NNSY completed the missile operational testing in eight weeks, breaking its previous record of 10.5 weeks aboard USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) during its ERO.

“The teams from NNSY Code 290 test engineering personnel, crane/rigging personnel, Shop 38 [Outside Machine], Shop 67 [Electronic], Shop 99 [Temporary Services], Strategic System Program (SSP) contractors and ship’s crew did an outstanding job overcoming obstacles, including a reduced staff due to the current pandemic. The team effectively handled all challenges as they arose and this lead to the successful Active Inert Missile (AIM) load, tube-to-tube transfer and operational sequence of missile tubes,” said Eric Kieffer, Code 290 Combat Systems Division Head.

Completion of the ship’s testing cannot begin until production work is completed on the missile tube and support systems such as Missile Gas (MG), Missile Heating and Cooling (MHC), Missile Hydraulics, and Missile Drying and Dehumidification (MDD), and power distribution including the 400Hz inverters.  These support systems are vital to interfacing and control systems such as fire control, launcher and navigation.

“The professionalism exhibited through the entire event was the trademark of NNSY C.O.R.E. values and Code 200’s leadership principles,” said Norfolk Naval Shipyard Commanding Officer, Capt. Kai Torkelson. “The strategic weapons test team has set the standard. They have shown the importance of portraying a positive attitude, the importance of initiative, and—most importantly--they ensured safety was paramount in every phase.”

In preparation for Missile Operate Sequence, two Active Inert Missiles (AIM) are loaded into the first two missile tubes.  As each set of missile tubes is tested, the AIMs are transferred to the next set of tubes until all missile tubes have been tested.  Then the AIMs are left in the last set of tubes for at-sea testing. Once additional prerequisite testing is completed, Missile Operate Sequence is accomplished which simulates a missile launch to exercise and test the ship’s systems to the fullest ability without actually launching a missile.

 “I am very proud of the crew and our civilian teammates who are supporting the maintenance work on Wyoming,” said Rear Adm. John Spencer, Commander, Submarine Group Ten. “It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of getting this ship mission ready and back to sea.”   

The quick turnaround ensures Wyoming returns to operational status, continuing the mission of strategic deterrence.

USS Wyoming is the 17th submarine in the Ohio class and the third U.S. Naval ship to be named after the 44th state of the Union. Wyoming is assigned to Commander, Submarine Group 10 and homeported in Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, home to all East Coast Ohio-class submarines.