USS Rhode Island visits Faslane, Scotland

The U.S. Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Rhode Island arrives at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Faslane, Scotland. ROYAL NAVY

By U.S. Strategic Command staff

FASLANE, Scotland – The arrival this year of the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) at Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde in Faslane, Scotland, underscores the United States’ commitment to its allies and partners in the region and demonstrates the submarine’s readiness and capability to operate around the globe.

The Rhode Island arrived at the port on July 1 as part of a scheduled visit. “We’re excited for Rhode Island’s opportunity to visit Faslane,” said Capt. John Craddock, Commander, Task Force 69, part of the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet responsible for submarine warfare operations. “The U.S. submarine force has a rich history of cooperation with our U.K. allies in this strategically significant port. The Rhode Island’s forward presence demonstrates our continued commitment to NATO allies.”

The Rhode Island was supported by a U.S. Navy E-6B Mercury “Take Charge And Move Out,” or TACAMO aircraft, which landed at RAF Mildenhall in England, home of the U.S. Air Force’s 100th Air Refueling Wing. The E-6B TACAMO provides Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) for SSBNs. Together, the SSBN and E-6B provide the U.S. National Command Authority and U.S. Strategic Command with a ready and reliable strategic deterrent capability with global reach.

Before entering the port of Faslane, the Rhode Island conducted an at-sea training exercise with the E-6B that focused on communications to train and enhance NC3 procedures. The event validated the interoperability between the SSBN and E-6B and explored alternative methods of communication between these strategic platforms.

The U.S. Navy has 14 ballistic missile submarines in its fleet, with each carrying up to 20 Trident II D5 submarine-launched nuclear ballistic missiles. These SSBNs, or “Boomers,” normally spend about 77 days at sea followed by several weeks in port for maintenance. Each SSBN has two crews, Blue and Gold, which alternate manning the submarines during patrols at sea. The SSBN is an undetectable platform for submarine-launched ballistic missiles and the most survivable leg of the U.S. nuclear triad. The triad also includes land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the B-2 and B-52H nuclear-capable strategic bombers operated by the U.S. Air Force.

The Rhode Island is the first U.S. Navy SSBN to visit Faslane since the USS Alaska (SSBN 732) in July 2019. The Rhode Island, homeported in Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in southeastern Georgia in the U.S., departed Faslane on July 5, 2022.

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