owes a profound debt of gratitude to all those who have volunteered
for the silent service,” comments Secretary of the Navy
Gordon R. England, about the USS Nautilus’
recent 50th anniversary of her christening. England is only
the second person in history to serve twice as Secretary of
the Navy and the first to serve in back-to-back terms. England
has been the 72nd and 73rd Secretary, but his service was
interrupted when President George W. Bush tapped him to serve
as the first Deputy Secretary in the Department of Homeland
Security in November 2002. England, a native of Baltimore
and long time resident of Fort Worth, Texas spent nearly 40
years in industry, including stints as President of General
Dynamics Land Systems and General Dynamics Aircraft Company,
later Lockheed Aircraft Company. He also led General Dynamics
as Executive Vice President before joining the Navy Department
in 2001. Recently, Secretary England took time to address
questions on the minds of many in today’s submarine
How important has the Submarine Force been in the Global War
The Submarine Force has played a vital role in our Navy for
many decades, and this vitality will continue. From World
War II, throughout the Cold War and the first Gulf War, the
submarine service has contributed significantly to peace and
security. I’ve visited several boats while visiting
the fleet and the crews are magnificent. In the Global War
on Terrorism the strike, surveillance, and special operations
capabilities of our Submarine Force have and will continue
to play a large part in winning this war.
The Navy is investing in new submarines and you have visited
some under construction. What’s your impression?
I’ve been very impressed. America has the finest shipyards
and builds the best boats in the world. The men and women
at Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Newport News have a
vital role to play in our national defense, and they take
great pride in the work. We will continue to invest in the
Submarine Force, which provides special capabilities to our
war fighters and leadership. The congressional leaders from
Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island and other key states have
been very supportive as well. Our submariners deserve the
best, and our shipbuilders consistently provide it.
You recently visited Hawaii and saw first hand the Advanced
SEAL Delivery System. How important is that system for our
SEALs and the Submarine Force?
Our SEALs are the best at what they do, and the ASDS enhances
their capabilities even more. This program is very complex
but also very important to our nation. I visited the SEALs
in Hawaii who are training with ASDS to see the system first
hand. This program provides our Navy with a unique ability
to utilize our special forces more effectively then ever before.
The Navy effectively grew the Submarine Force by retaining
four SSBNs and converting them to SSGNs. What effect will
those submarines have when they finish reconfiguration and
rejoin the fleet?
By reconfiguring four of our SSBNs and converting them to
SSGNs we are enhancing our combat power, improving our special
warfare capabilities and saving the tax payers hundreds of
millions of dollars. These “new” boats will be
capable of a variety of missions and with UUVs [unmanned underwater
vehicles], they will be able to adapt and expand their missions
in the future.
Unmanned and remotely piloted aircraft, vehicles and vessels
are playing a larger role in our military. Do you see these
systems as having an important role in the Navy’s future?
Unmanned systems will play a very important role in all areas
of the armed forces and our day-to-day lives in the near future.
The Submarine Force is at the cutting edge in many of these
areas, and together with the Office of Naval Research and
our partners in industry and academia we will see further
advances in this new science and capability.