“2006 will be a year of focusing the Submarine Force’s unique abilities as a functioning Enterprise on the
transformational challenges of the evolving GWOT.”
VADM Chuck L. Munns , USN, Commander, Naval Submarine Forces
As we look forward to an exciting 2006, let me recap some of the many achievements of the past year and set the scene for where we are headed in the near future.
We commissioned USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) and for the first time hosted a living president on a naval warship named in his honor. The Submarine Force is fortunate to count as members President and Mrs. Carter – two individuals whose contributions to peace and humanity will be long remembered. President Carter’s explanation for why we need this ship for creating peace reminded me of similar remarks I recall from Harvard University president and former Secretary of Treasury Lawrence Summers. He said “We are free, because we are strong, and that freedom depends on our strength.”
The newly commissioned USS Virginia (SSN-774) deployed ahead of schedule to the SOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility in support of counter-drug operations. Bringing Virginia’s capabilities to the Global War on Terror (GWOT) is a great example of our flexibility.
2005 was also notable for our international outreach and cooperation with other submarine forces. Our Diesel Electric Submarine Initiative involved Peru, Colombia, and Sweden and provided valuable ASW training services to our fleet. Submarine flag-level staff talks with Allied partners, exchange programs, and exercises such as Sorbet Royal 2005 were other venues of cooperation with an international submarine force that totals more than 225 submarines from 28 countries. Our NATO-led International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) had a supporting role in the rescue of HMCS Chicoutimic after her fire in 2004 and was critical in the recovery of the Russian Priz submarine when it was trapped underwater last summer.
We expanded our UnderSea Enterprise (USE) by enlarging our Enterprise Flag Panel and addressing broader USE processes. I encourage each of you to be familiar with USE’s history, structure, and procedures as outlined on pg. 4 and 5 of this issue, so you can understand your role and find ways to contribute.
The Submarine Force took delivery of our first SSGN, USS Ohio (SSGN-726), in December 2005. Her return to service this February and that of USS Florida (SSGN-728) later this spring are great success stories for demonstrating the power of the Enterprise model. To get the first SSGN back onboard required coordinated efforts across the entire USE. This on-time and on-cost delivery of significant capability required timely decisions from the TYCOM, Commander Fleet Forces Command, and Cross-Functional Teams that included representation from the PEO, NETWARCOM, numbered fleet commanders, SOCOM, Navy Installations Command, CNET, Naval Personnel Command, and others. Compared to the days when these decisions were made unilaterally by isolated organizations, we have come a long way.
In addition to seeing two SSGNs join the fleet this year, the Submarine Force will welcome the second ship of the Virginia-class when USS Texas (SSN-775) is commissioned in late summer/early fall. These new platforms and their incredible warfighting capabilities will quickly add to our ability to support the GWOT, conduct Phase Zero “scout” missions, and if needed, execute our part of the fight in major combat operations. We will continue to excel in these missions by going where others can’t and “bringing home the bacon” day in and day out.
In January 2006, the Submarine Force proceeded further with our alignment efforts by combining SUBGRUs NINE and TEN under one flag officer and divesting the SUBGRU TWO commander of his Navy Region Northeast responsibilities. This will enable COMSUBGRU TWO to focus on his operational responsibilities: sending submarines to deployment and significantly enhancing our capabilities for, and contributing to, the GWOT.
2006 will be a year of focusing the Submarine Force’s unique abilities as a functioning Enterprise on the transformational challenges of the evolving GWOT. I’m sure that by exploiting the pre-eminent capabilities of stealth, mobility, agility, and persistence inherent in our people and platforms, we will rise to the challenge and play a large role in our nation’s security.