The contract to build Ohio was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, Connecticut on July 1, 1974. Her keel was laid by Mrs. Robert Taft, wife of Senator Taft, on April 10, 1976. On February 2, 1978, the Precommissioning Unit was formed with Commander A. K. Thompson as its Commanding Officer. Ohio was launched April 7, 1979, and christened by Mrs. Annie Glenn, wife of Senator John H. Glenn. In the summer of 1981, sea trials were held to test the equipments, systems and ship that were to be accepted by the United States Navy, and the submarine was delivered to the US Navy on October 28, 1981. On November 11, 1981, Ohio was commissioned. The principal speaker, The Honorable George Bush, Vice President of the United States, remarked to the 8000 assembled guests that the ship introduced a "new dimension in our nation's strategic deterrence," and Admiral Hyman G. Rickover noted that the Ohio should "strike fear in the hearts of our enemies." On that day, Captain A. K. Thompson assumed command of USS Ohio (SSBN 726)(BLUE) and Captain A. F. Campbell assumed command of USS Ohio (SSBN 726)(GOLD).
Following Post Shakedown Availability at Electric Boat Division, Ohioleft the Atlantic and transited to her new home port, Bangor, Washington, by way of Cape Canaveral where she tested her missile launch systems and the Panama Canal, arriving on August 12, 1982. During August and September 1982, the first loadout of Trident C-4 missiles and a predeployment refit were conducted. Ohio and her Blue Crew (... including this author ... shudder ...) departed on the first Trident Submarine Strategic Deterrent Patrol in October 1982.
From June 1993 to June 1994 Ohio underwent overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, receiving extensive upgrades to sonar, fire control, and navigation systems. Ohio resumed strategic deterrent patrols in January 1995 as part of Submarine Squadron Seventeen, Submarine Group Nine, Pacific Submarine Force.
Original plans call for Ohio (and USS Florida (SSBN-728)) to be retired in 2002. However, for about US$400 million (not including a replacement reactor core), Ohio could be modified and remain in service till 2023-2026.
A large vertical launch system (VLS) of Tomahawk missiles could be installed, with 22 of the 24 Trident missile tubes replaced by seven Tomahawks launch tubes each. With a total of 154 Tomahawks, one Ohio-class SSGN would carry an entire Battle Group's equivalent of cruise missiles. The other two Trident tubes could be replaced by swimmer lockout and equipment pods. Then, for short durations, a minisub currently under development could be affixed to the bow and the boat could transport around a hundred SEALs or other Special Forces. However, there are not many missions in which such a large force of SEALs would play a significant role.
- Overall Length: 170 meters (560 feet)
- Extreme Beam: 12.8 meters (42 feet)
- Maximum Navigational Draft: 11.5 meters (38 feet)
- Light Displacement: 15275 tons
- Full Displacement: 16802 tons
- Dead Weight: 1527 tons
- Test Depth: deeper than 400 feet
- Maximum Speed: greater than 20 knots
- Accommodations: 13 Officers, 140 Enlisted