USS Pennsylvania (SSBN-735) is a United States Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine that has been in commission since 1989. She is the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The contract to build Pennsylvania was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut, on 29 November 1982 and her keel was laid down there on 10 January 1984. She was launched on 23 April 1988, sponsored by Mrs. Marilyn Garrett, and commissioned on 9 September 1989, with Captain Richard M. Camp commanding the Blue Crew and Captain Lee Edwards commanding the Gold Crew.
The Ohio class of nuclear-powered submarines includes the United States Navy’s 14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and its four cruise missile submarines (SSGNs). Each displacing 18,750 tons submerged, the Ohio-class boats are the largest submarines ever built for the U.S. Navy. They are the world’s third-largest submarines, behind the Russian Navy’s Soviet-designed 48,000-ton Typhoon class and 24,000-ton Borei class. The Ohios carry more missiles than either: 24 Trident II missiles apiece, versus 16 by the Borei class (20 by the Borei II) and 20 by the Typhoon class.The lead submarine of this class is USS Ohio. All the Ohio-class submarines, except for USS Henry M. Jackson, are named for U.S. states, which U.S. Navy tradition had previously reserved for battleships and cruisers. The Ohio class is to be gradually replaced by the Columbia class beginning in 2031.
Like its predecessor Benjamin Franklin- and Lafayette-class subs, the Ohio SSBNs are part of the United States’ nuclear-deterrent triad, along with U.S. Air Force strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The 14 SSBNs together carry about half of U.S. active strategic thermonuclear warheads. Although the Trident missiles have no preset targets when the submarines go on patrol, they can be given targets quickly, from the United States Strategic Command based in Nebraska, using secure and constant radio communications links, including very low frequency systems.