Undetected and persistent, our crews gathered
knowledge, supported Strike Groups or worked with allied forces in rigorous exercises. I am proud that the Submarine Force continues to draw praise from theater commanders for the value we bring to the table.
VADM Chuck L. Munns , USN, Commander, Naval Submarine Forces
Greetings to the Undersea Enterprise and a Happy 106th birthday to the Submarine Force! We continue to be busy in oceans and littoral waters around the world. Since the turn of the year we have conducted sea trials for USS Ohio (SSGN-726) and USS Florida (SSGN-728), sent 13 SSBNs on patrol, deployed eight SSNs and returned seven from deployments. These submarines either tested and validated conversion design and shipyard work, kept our nation safe with the most survivable form of deterrence, or served as scouts going where others cannot.
Our returning SSNs this year have covered a lot of global territory and operated in challenging environments – often in shallow waters with dense merchant or fishing traffic. Undetected and persistent, our crews gathered knowledge, supported Strike Groups or worked with allied forces in rigorous exercises. I am proud that the Submarine Force continues to draw praise from theater commanders for the value we bring to the table.
By now you all should be more familiar with our Enterprise structure and functions. This has been a topic of discussion during the Waterfront 1120 Calls I’ve held at nearly every submarine homeport in the past months. For those who were unable to attend one of these briefs, you should familiarize yourself with the USE overview posted on the SUBLANT and SUBPAC websites www.sublant.navy.mil and www.csp.navy.mil. Understanding the big picture of how we are organized as an enterprise and your role in its success is important. It is also important that you act as an undersea expert when you are in billets outside the submarine force. The dolphins you wear represent not only your professionalism but also that of the entire submarine force – past, present and future.
A Bravo Zulu is due to RDML Frank Drennan, his Group NINE staff, the CO and crew of Ohio, and the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor team who did a magnificent job putting on the SSGN Capabilities Symposium and Ohio Return to Service in February. The turn out was great – from the joint Special Operations Forces, the local community led by Congressman Norm Dicks, industry representatives, the ship’s sponsor Mrs. John Glenn, to our guest speaker Vice Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff ADM Ed Giambastiani.
ADM “G” is in many ways the patron saint of the SSGN program because of his significant role in developing and realizing the SSGN concept. As he stated during the Feb. 7 ceremony, and as he later reported to the president, “The SSGN has truly been a case study in transforming our military capabilities to meet the future needs of our joint forces. It provides exactly the kind of capabilities our Quadrennial Defense Review calls for.”
In support of sustaining readiness, the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) calls for the Fleet to have greater presence in the Pacific Ocean, consistent with the global shift in trade and transport. For the Submarine Force, this means shifting our SSNs for a composition of 60 percent in the Pacific and 40 percent in the Atlantic. We plan to make these moves by 2010. These homeport shifts will impact some of our people and their families. While these transitions take energy and cause stress, they also provide adventure and produce opportunities. Two of the boats transitioning last year made arctic transits… surfacing way up north. Not many people in this world have played softball with Santa at the North Pole.
With regards to our future force, the QDR calls for a return to a steady-state production rate of two nuclear attack submarines per year not later than 2012 while achieving an average per-hull procurement cost objective of $2.0 billion (fiscal year 2005 dollars).
The Undersea Enterprise is working on a strategy to reach that price. We base it on three pillars: multi-year contracting, shipyard construction efficiencies, and redesign for capability enhancement with cost reduction.
Initiatives like these, along with the work you all do every day, are key to enhancing Submarine Force contributions to our National Security.
Keep up the good work in your respective part of the Enterprise! Smooth sailing, and good hunting.