Greetings to the Undersea Enterprise. This has been a good year for undersea warfare. We are “On Scene, but Unseen.” We continue to operate as a global force, flowing units around the world as needed to serve individually or in concert with US forces and our coalition partners. Our forward deployed SSNs continue to produce information that is useful in the long war and maritime security operations and our SSBNs patrol quietly in a survivable, always-ready posture. Additionally, our Sailors and officers are making important contributions while serving as Individual Augmentees. This year we continued our force transformation in support of the GWOT. Our first two SSGNs, USS Ohio (SSGN-726) and USS Florida (SSGN-728), and our second Virginia-class submarine, USS Texas (SSN-775), were delivered. Sadly, USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-709) and USS Honolulu (SSN-718) completed their last deployments. Our last remaining diesel-electric submarine, USS Dolphin (AGSS-555), was also decommissioned. Leveraging earlier work with coalition forces, we continued to foster partnerships with capable submariners worldwide. From discrete and persistent scout operations in the littorals to reliable nuclear deterrence at sea, your professional and dedicated service directly contributed to maritime security and world stability.
The Undersea Enterprise continued to mature, align and improve productivity. Your hard work identifying issues and innovative solutions resulted in saving over $200 million dollars and recovering over 1000 days of submarine operational availability. Five enduring objectives and associated effects served to align results for 2006 and continue to guide the activity of the Enterprise through 2007:
• Operational Availability. The USE produces effective attack submarines (SSNs), ballistic
missile submarines (SSBNs), cruise missile submarines (SSGNs), and integrated undersea surveillance systems (IUSS) ready for tasking with improved productivity.
• CO Decision Making. The USE produces commanding officers who accurately assess situations, manage risk, and make good decisions.
• Submarine Expertise. The USE ensures undersea warfare expertise is available and integrated throughout the joint warfighting, military technology, defense, and government management communities.
• USE Culture and Standards. The USE will foster a culture of technical excellence in mariner skills, basic watch standing, assessment, and high standards of conduct.
• Future Capability. The USE develops and executes an effective strategy to achieve the future capability identified by fleet, joint force, and combatant commanders at the right time and at the right cost. This strategy encompasses prioritized efforts in four main areas: modernization through programmed initiatives, maintainability and supportability initiatives, managed development of the most promising emerging technology, and Virginia-class cost reduction.
As we look forward to the coming year, we need to keep doing what you have done – reliable, proficient accomplishment of our undersea missions. The following are some thoughts as we work into the new year.
• Primacy of readiness. Produce ready forces; the right readiness at the right time at the right cost. This includes personnel and family readiness and improving our “culture of fitness.”
• Safety of ship. Every decision involves the balance of opportunity and risk. Seize opportunity and manage risk to optimize the missions and situations you face.
• Technical competence of our people. Well-trained and technically competent personnel are vital to the readiness of the force – strive for the right training, at the right time.
• Focus on core activity. Everyone is busy; you must ask continuously: what requires this activity and why? What is its effect? If the activity is not directly linked to our results or objectives, then carefully consider the resources we apply to it.
• Public trust. We must never forget that we hold a special trust from our nation – to win in combat and to do the best we can with our assigned resources. This trust requires us to get the most out of every dollar and person we have – to be the best stewards of those resources.
Each of you represents a vital part of a chain of activity that results in unique undersea warfare capability for the nation. Your hard work made 2006 a great year for the force. The dolphins you wear represent not only your professionalism but also that of the entire Submarine Force – past, present and future. Keep up the good work in your respective part of the Enterprise! Smooth sailing, and good hunting.