Posted by: arbeam | May 7, 2018

Mar 26: DASO-28, (Demonstration and Shakedown Operation-28) Trip Report

During the month of March this year I had the privilege of going to San Diego, represent our Navy League Council and  attend the DASO-28, and which is the firing of a Trident missile from the USS Nebraska off of the coast of California.

It was indeed a cold morning March at 0300hrs when I got up and dressed to go to the Point Loma Naval facility in San Diego where everyone that was attending the missile shoot was to meet no later than 0530hrs at the Navy Gateway Inn located on the Port Loma base.

Approx 0545hrs nearly 200 of us lucky people boarded Navy buses from the Gate Way Inn to be transported to the Port Loma docks to board the USNS Waters, a 475 foot Naval ship that does submarine navigation research and submerged launch support and tracking of the missiles.  It is under the operation control of the Military Sealift Command and is operated by DOD civilian personal.

Upon pulling away from the docks in San Diego the group was broken down into smaller groups where Navy personal from the USS Nebraska Gold were assigned to be tour guides for our groups as we attended the shoot.  The USS Nebraska Blue were going to conduct the shoot for this day.   We had a light breakfast as we headed out to sea and instructions as to what was going to happen when we took up a position of observation.  We were advised over the speaker system that today the USS Nebraska was going to launch two missiles, First launching was to be a 1330hrs and the second was to be launched approx 2 hours later.

The USNS Waters arrived approximately forty miles off the coast of California and  stopped, as we were informed by loud speaker we were “Under way, with no way on”. As we were stopped we could see the USS Nebraska cross our stern powering to the port side of the USNS Waters, as the USS Nebraska passed us on the port side it started to submerge, it was blowing its tanks and you could see the sea water shooting in the air as she disappeared beneath the water, very impressive sight.    We were in position at this time to view the launching.  It was very close to 1330hrs for the first launching when it was announced that there was going to be a delay as there was a fishing vessel in the missile impact area near Guam and the Naval ship located in that area was going to make contact and have them leave the area.

At approx 1400 hrs over the speaker system it started the count down for the first launching.  On the USNS Waters there was a great deal of electronic tracking equipment and topside there were cameras mounted, they were very LARGE cameras that would track the missiles when they were fired.  We were told to check the cameras and see which way they were pointing as that would be an indicator as to where the missile was going to come out of the water.  The count down was down to seconds and everyone was on the starboard side, (where the cameras were pointed),when all of sudden out of the calm waters came this huge missile into the air, pausing just above the water for a nano second and then the first stage ignited.  There was a great deal of smoke, the missile started to rise and the noise from the first stage became very intense.  The USNS Waters began to vibrate as the missile headed skyward.  It wasn’t long before the missile was out of sight, the first stage rocket was jettisoned in about 55 seconds, then the second stage fired off causing the Trident to achieve an altitude four times that of the space station.  The second stage jettisoned and the third stage fires off taking the business end of the Trident to its target.

The Trident missile was fired from the San Diego area, went down range to its target, landed in its target area near Guam which is nearly 4000 nautical miles and did so in a little more that 17 minutes. It reached over 17,000 mph.

Both missiles that were fired by the USS Nebraska that day had no war heads but were equipped telemetry equipment installed so they check the experimental instrumentation.

As the USNS Waters ended the day and turned to head back to San Diego, the crew fired up two  very large BBQs and the cook was on.  Pam Love was right, under no circumstances would you leave the Waters hungry.

On board the Waters I met a couple of guys from the Bremerton area who said that they had to get back home the next day as they worked at PSNS and they were going to have to service the USS Nebraska when it arrived as they were going to have to pump the sea water from the Nebraska’s missile silos and make sure they are undamaged from the shoot so they can reload the ship with armed Tridents.  They seemed to think it would take about two weeks to complete the job.

In my twenty years of membership in the Bremerton-Olympic Navy League council I have participated in all of the offered tours, sometimes two or three times, but I have to admit having the opportunity to attend the DASO-28 tour was exciting and breath taking.  I want to thank Pam Love, John Daniels, and the many others that took the time to put a trip like this together.  It was a trip of a lifetime.

George Rose
Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Council
Board Member


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