An image of a Bell-Boeing CV-22 Osprey loitering overhead a nuclear submarine has taken social media by storm as it is one of the most impressive shots one could possibly come across.
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The exact submarine showcased in the photo cannot be confirmed but reports suggest, it is most probably the USS Georgia, an Ohio class nuclear-powered guided cruise missile submarine (SSGN).
Furthermore, the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) released some images on April 22 that provide some hints as to which submarine is depicted and where the photo might have been captured.
The USSOCOM’s images are from an exercise conducted by the 352nd Special Operations Wing (SOW) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea in December 2021 to test its ability to provide rapid infiltration and exfiltration capabilities to support a range of missions with an unidentified SSGN similar in appearance to USS Georgia.
352d SOW Air Commandos integrated with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit – Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa for a first-time endeavor in the Mediterranean that enhanced the ability to use #SOF aircraft to provide rapid infil and exfil for a spectrum of SOF missions. pic.twitter.com/K46G5Bqd0T
— USSOCOM (@USSOCOM) April 22, 2022
In the images, special operations forces (SOFs) can be seen dropped onto the SSGN from the CV-22 Osprey hovering above it. So, it is possible that the photo of V-22 hovering above the SSGN was taken just before or after the SOFs were hauled onto or off the submarine.
The sea-swirl can be seen rising under the V-22’s prop-rotors in the photo providing a glimpse, of how breath-taking the operation must have been for the commandos involved.
Over the last few months, USS Georgia has been seen in various European waters, such as back in January, the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet released images of the submarine near the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean to signal the NATO’S strong presence in the region on the backdrop of increased Russian threats against Ukraine.
Also, on March 27, the submarine was seen near Souda Bay, Greece doing special operations training with US Marines from Task Force 61/2 (TF-61/2) conducting launch and recovery training with their combat rubber raiding craft.
While the Osprey used in the December 2021 training was the first time endeavor of the SOF in the Mediterranean using aircraft to access the nuclear submarine while on patrol.
The V-22 is a multi-mission, tiltrotor military aircraft, designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.
It was an outcome of the realization that there were military roles for which neither conventional helicopters nor fixed-wing transport aircraft was well-suited which came after the failure of Operation Eagle Claw, during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980, to rescue the 52 embassy staff held captive at the US Embassy in Tehran.
The Osprey provides an attractive option for the SOF to access the SSGNs during patrol because of its ability to fly long ranges at high speeds and carry heavy cargo, up to 10,000 pounds (4,536 kg) or 24 troops, plus it can take off, hover and land like a helicopter.
The Osprey can be used for a wide range of missions such as executing medical evacuations, delivering small cargoes, or moving special operations personnel on or off a submarine, the last one being especially relevant for the USS Georgia and Navy’s three other SSGNs, which have a fundamental special operations mothership and command and control mission.
While, the US Navy possesses decades of experience using submarines in support of tactical operations, including special operations at sea and onshore, the Ohio SSGNs offer a far more flexible multi-mission capability than any of the previous undersea platforms.
As Eurasian Times reported earlier this month, these SSGNs were converted from previous Ohio class nuclear powered ballistic missiles (SSBNs) to fire BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles rather than the nuclear-armed Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
The earlier SSBN version had 24 missile tubes that were reduced to 22 missile tubes in the latest SSGN version that can each fire 7 Tomahawk missiles and the remaining two tubes have been converted into lockout chambers for combat divers and SOFs to enter and exit the submarine underwater.
Furthermore, two dry deck shelters (DDS) can be installed atop the SSGN’s hull while attached to the lockout chambers, which can provide a fully enclosed, dry space to work in on the submarine’s deck even while it is underwater, allowing the SOFs to enter or exit the shelters and deploy and recover swimmer delivery vehicle mini-submarines.
The submarine has special operations mission centers and mission planning spaces, additional sensor and communication systems, and other modifications that enable it to operate undetected and in shallower waters than its Ohio SSBN counterparts.
So, unlike the traditional surface command ships, the SSGNs such as USS Georgia are designed to act as a “clandestine sea-base” to direct forward operations while sailing concealed below the surface of the ocean.
Therefore, the use of the V-22 Osprey increases the flexibility of the SOFs to access the SSGNs during patrol that can be deployed for intelligence gathering and under-sea command and control missions in support of SOF’s tactical operations.
- Written by Tanmay Kadam/EurAsian Times Desk
- Contact the author at [email protected]
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