Below is a snippet from “Life Aboard US Navy Ballistic Missile Submarine USS Wyoming.” Watch it carefully. Observe that the vast majority of the crew are very young; almost children. Observe the deep and focused seriousness with which they carry out their assigned tasks on the USS Wyoming when it is on station. Think about what it takes to serve for months sealed in a steel tube deep beneath the surface of the ocean with the constant unremitting whirr and whine of machinery. Take a look at the rack space, the personal space, these young crew members are given. Take a careful and thoughtful look at those scenes where they can be seen to be walking in a forest of carefully monitored and attended vertical tubes. The tubes hold the mission.
Then think about the mission of the crew of the USS Wyoming.
That mission is, should it ever come to that, to destroy the world. To burn cities to cinders in a moment. That is the crew’s mission and they serve on one of the tools, one of the strategic assets, of the United States designed to do just that.
The payload of the USS Wyoming is comprised of 24 Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles. Each Trident II holds from 8 to 12 MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable re-entry Vehicle) W88 or W76 thermonuclear weapons Each warhead yields 475 kilotons. How many kilotons was the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima? 15 kilotons. The math for maximum Armageddon is thus:
24 x 12 = 288 warheads x 475 kilotons = 136,000 kilotons / 15 = 9,120 Hiroshimas.
Which should pretty much do the job of ending the world, right? Right.
[That’s just from 1 (one) of our ballistic missile submarines. Did I mention that we have 14?]
If the missiles are launched from a submarine — The captain, executive officer and two others authenticate the order. The launch message provides the combination to an on-board safe holding the “fire-control” key needed to deploy the missiles. Missiles are ready for launch about 15 minutes after receiving the order.
The end of the world then proceeds as follows:
Before the launch sequence is initiated, the onboard MARK 6 navigation system is activated. The specified mission trajectory [Translation: Target] is loaded onto the flight computer.
Once the launch command is given, a steam generator system is activated, igniting a fixed solid-grain gas generator. The exhaust is fed into cooling water, causing expanding gas within the launch tube to force the missile upward, and out of the submarine.
[At this point the end of the world cannot be called off]
Within seconds, the missile breaches the surface of the water and the first-stage Thrust Vectoring Control (TVC) subsystem ignites. This enables hydraulic actuators attached to the first-stage nozzle. Soon after, the first-stage motor ignites and burns for approximately 65 seconds until the fuel is expended; in addition, an aerospike atop the missile deploys shortly after the first-stage ignition to shape airflow. When the first-stage motor ceases operation, the second-stage TVC subsystem ignites. The first-stage motor is then ejected by ordnance within the interstage casing.
Once the first stage is cleared, the second-stage motor ignites and burns for approximately 65 seconds. The nose fairing is then jettisoned, separating from the missile. When the nose fairing is cleared of the missile, the third-stage TVC subsystem ignites, and ordnance separates the second-stage motor. The third-stage motor then ignites, pushing the equipment section the remaining distance (approx. 40 seconds) of the flight. When the third-stage motor reaches the targeted area, the Post Boost Control System (PBCS) ignites, and the third-stage motor is ejected.
The astro-inertial guidance uses star positioning to fine-tune the accuracy of the inertial guidance system after launch. As the accuracy of a missile is dependent upon the guidance system knowing the exact position of the missile at any given moment during its flight, the fact that stars are a fixed reference point from which to calculate that position makes this a potentially very effective means of improving accuracy. In the Trident system this was achieved by a single camera that was trained to spot just one star in its expected position. If it was not quite aligned to where it should be it would indicate that the inertial system was not precisely on target and a correction would be made.
The targets are locked in. The warheads separate and you have…. incoming! Maximum sunblock is suggested.
If one of the 475 KT warheads were to detonate on Chico, CA (Population around 90,000 and about 20 miles from my house) the death circles would look like this.
Short form: More injuries and fatalities than the total population. That’s the potential the young, very young, crew of the USS Wyoming commands.
[HT: Captain Monroe]