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Like a spaceship: USS Minnesota finds unique test site in Brevard

Aug. 22, 2013 - 05:21PM   |  
New nuclear sub visits Port Canaveral
New nuclear sub visits Port Canaveral: The U.S. Navy's newest nuclear submarine, the USS Minnesota, recently came to Port Canaveral. By Craig Rubadoux and Tim Walters Posted Aug. 21, 2013
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The Naval Ordnance Test Unit at Port Canaveral was among the first places the USS Minnesota visited as it began its sea trials and prepared for its commissioning Sept. 7 in Norfolk, Va.

That’s because of the unique mission of NOTU: to provide weapon-accuracy tests for submarines from the United States and United Kingdom.

About 600 civilian contractors, about 90 civil-service employees and 70 active-duty military personnel work at the Naval Ordnance Test Unit, on the north side of Port Canaveral. NOTU facilities include a missile assembly and checkout facility, ordnance storage magazines, a launch pad and Poseidon and Trident wharves.

The Minnesota has come to Port Canaveral several times and expects to pull in several more before its commissioning.

Other subs and ships pull into the port for supplies from local vendors, to bring in someone who may need medical help not provided aboard the ship or bring in a crew for shore leave.

“There is no place as convenient as Port Canaveral where they can come in, get what they need and get back out,” said Steve McConnell, a spokesman for NOTU.

“It’s of great value to the United States.”

The building of a new facility will make NOTU even more valuable to the submarine fleet.

The Strategic Weapons System Ashore facility will allow for the testing of fire-control, launch systems and navigation to all come together at one facility instead of being done by contractors in different locations.

All missile tests for submarine systems will be done at NOTU.

Building the facility, which includes the refurbishing on a 1950s era missile complex, will continue until completed in 2021.

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