Work On Submarine Missile Test Facility Begins

By  //  November 9, 2012

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Project To Be Completed By 2015

BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA –  The U.S. Navy, Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Space Florida and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast broke ground Thursday on the new Strategic Weapons System Ashore facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Stattion.’

The Ohio-class submarine is equipped with the Trident strategic ballistic missile. (Image courtesy U.S. Navy)

Space Florida and the EDC anticipate 100 jobs may be created within three years as a result of the project, with average annual salaries of $90,000 and approximately 85 percent of the projected workforce from civilian contractors, including former space shuttle workers.

“Florida has a uniquely skilled workforce for aerospace research and development projects – and I’m proud to see this community will be the centerpiece of this project,” Florida Gov. Rock Scott said. “I’ve made job creation my number one priority, and while our work isn’t done this is a step in the right direction.”

Others in attendance agreed.

“This effort to enhance military technologies here in Florida was the result of the incredible partnership between the Navy and Space Florida. No doubt, this facility will be used to keep our brave men and women safe,” said Lt. Gov. and Space Florida Board Chair Jennifer Carroll. “It also means more jobs for our communities – and the continued presence of modern military infrastructure here in Florida.”

Rick Scott is the 45th governor of Florida. (image courtesy Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott )

Test facility only

Stationary, inert missiles, outfitted with electronic monitoring equipment will be used for the testing, and the test facility is not intended to be used for actual missile launches.

The groundbreaking took place at Cape Canaveral Launch Complexes 25 and 29, which will be converted into the new missile test complex, replacing the 1950s-era facility that previously existed on the grounds.

The new complex will provide the U.S. Navy with a single, land-based facility for testing submarine missile systems.

To date, missile launch systems, fire control, guidance and navigation, and the missiles themselves, were all tested separately by the Navy at various locations across the U.S. through computer simulation.

By bringing systems together in one location, the Navy will be able to test interactions between system components using the same hardware and software found on the submarines.

Space Florida has committed to providing $5 million in capital improvements over three years to the demolition and rebuild of the site.

Construction of the new submarine test facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is expected to begin later this year and should be completed in 2015. (Image by Irene Troutman)

Perfect combination

“The combination of this area’s workforce and infrastructure capabilities lend itself perfectly to the testing needs of NOTU at this time,” said Capt. J.P. Heatherington, Commander, Naval Ordnance Test Unit. “We look forward to working with the State of Florida to build out this capability at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.”

The new facility will maximize potential at the site.

“The SWS Ashore facility will ensure maximum utilization of excess launch facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a key goal for the State of Florida,” noted Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “We are pleased to see such a critical Navy program base its operations here on Florida’s Space Coast, and look forward to supporting the build-out efforts in the coming months.”

The entire project will help boost the local ecomony.

The Ohio class submarines serve the United States Navy as virtually undetectable undersea launch platforms of intercontinental missiles. The U.S. has 18 Ohio submarines, commissioned between 1981 and 1997. (Image courtesy U.S. Navy)


“With its presence on the Space Coast for the next 70-plus years, the SWS Ashore facility solidifies NOTU’s footprint here and shows we have created an environment in which the Navy knows we can meet — and exceed — its needs now and for many years to come,” said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. “That commitment means the Space Coast will benefit not just from this program, but from the potential business expansion and attraction opportunities that can arise from it.”

Construction is expected to begin later this year on the project and should be completed in 2015. The Ohio systems are projected to be operational in 2017 and the Ohio replacement systems will be operational in 2020.

In addition to maintaining the current Ohio-class fleet, the Navy is scheduled to begin building a replacement to the Ohio-class submarine later this decade in order to replace the retiring fleet. Once commissioned, the Ohio-replacement submarines are projected to be in service to the 2080s. Systems for the new submarine will be installed and tested in the SWS Ashore as part of the initial build program.

The Navy considered several locations for the SWS-Ashore facility. The Navy ultimately chose CCAFS as a result of its unique capabilities and suitability for the proposed facility operations.

The Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) program remains a crucial element of the strategic deterrent capabilities for the United States and is under the purview of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs office headquartered in Washington, D.C. The SWS Ashore facility will enhance NOTU’s capability to carry out its current mission to support FBM operations. The Cape Canaveral division of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. will be responsible for SWS Ashore facility design and construction, along with infrastructure support.

CCAFS Launch Complexes 25 and 29 were originally constructed for the first Fleet Ballistic Missile test launches in the 1950s, and use of the locations was discontinued in the 1970s. When proposed new work is finished, the complexes will support testing systems found in the current Ohio-class submarine as well as systems under development for the Ohio replacement submarine.