A new U.S. ballistic-missile monitoring and defense asset completed trials in December off the coast of San Diego. The USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM-25) was built by VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi, as a replacement for the 50-year-old Observation Island (T-AGM-23). Laid down in 2008 and launched in 2010, the Howard O. Lorenzen began acceptance trials late in 2011 and at-sea mission testing in mid-2012. Tasked with monitoring and collecting exoatmospheric and endoatmospheric data on foreign ballistic-missile tests for treaty verification, the ship is operated by the Military Sealift Command with a mixed crew consisting of civilian mariners to manage the ship and an Air Force operations-and-maintenance team to run the radars and mission equipment. This is accomplished through the use of integrated dual-band active phased-array radar known as the Cobra Judy Replacement system. The ship is expected to reach full operational capability in 2014.
By Eric Wertheim