Greetings from our Nation’s capital. Washington, D.C. has many reminders of our inspiring history and of the sacrifices made in the name of freedom by our country’s founders and defenders over the years. We have seen many heroes throughout our history, and many more are serving today, working to increase our security by forging a safer world and defending our way of life. For those of you on the front lines, thanks for what you are doing for us.
One of our most memorable heroes recently departed on ‘eternal patrol.’ RADM Eugene ‘Lucky’ Fluckey passed away in June, and we will miss his leadership, guidance and friendship. His exploits, fueled by energy, imagination, and leadership, require no retelling here. They remain relevant and will continue to inspire us all. RADM Fluckey liked to say “No problems–just solutions.” Solutions have long been a hallmark of the U.S. Submarine Force as we have advanced leadership skills, technology, tactics, training and procedures to meet the challenges at hand through two World Wars, the Cold War, and our present day operations across the globe.
Your Washington, D.C. team continues to work to provide solutions to the Navy and the Submarine Force. USS Oklahoma City (SSN-723) was recently certified as the first submarine to employ electronic navigation, and we plan to transition all submarines to paperless navigation by the end of 2009. SSGN continues to make solid progress on course toward the first deployment later this year. In May, USS Florida (SSGN-728) fired four TOMAHAWK missiles and re-directed two of them in mid-flight to alternate targets. Additionally, our communications suite of the future, the Common Submarine Radio Room (CSRR), was certified for use onboard SSGNs, as it had been previously certified for SSBNs and Seawolf-class SSNs. Our rapid capability insertion process for sonar and fire control systems continues to mature. We are working to better align crew preparation (training and logistics) with capability installations so that you are ready to employ these new capabilities before they arrive onboard. Additionally, we are reducing the complexity of our design-build-test process to more clearly tailor new capabilities to your warfighting needs at sea. The Mk 48 ADCAP CBASS torpedo, with some impressive new capabilities, has been given a green light for unrestricted use in the fleet. We are also beginning to look into the more distant future to consider the range of sea-based strategic deterrent capabilities that might follow our Ohio-class SSBNs.
RADM Fluckey was one of many who helped cement the submarine’s reputation as a decisive multi-mission weapons system. The spectrum of past successes, like RADM Fluckey’s, through your successes today, has enabled the continued evolution of undersea warfare with improved capabilities via advanced combat systems, sensors, weapons, and propulsion systems. Stealth, persistence, and relevant payload continue to be our strong suits. As undersea warriors, it is up to you to continue this legacy to ensure we are ready to face any challenges the future may bring. It is up to the Washington, D.C. team to work to provide you with the best tools possible, and we are dedicated to that task.
RADM Fluckey was successful for many reasons, one being that he was an outstanding leader. Several months ago, I had the opportunity to host some of the Submarine Force’s future leaders here in D.C.—the 2006 Junior Officers of the Year. It was inspiring to meet with this group to hear their views and answer some of their questions. With leaders like these, our force is in good hands. Our leaders at all levels must continue to challenge each other, challenge our past assumptions, and be innovative in pressing performance standards even higher.
I want to thank our shipmates who have recently departed OPNAV N87. Their work on solutions was impressive, and will help maintain our undersea dominance well into the future. Farewell to CAPT Brad Kratovil, CAPT Mike Poirier, CDR Chris Scofield, CDR Rick Dau, LCDR Jason Small, and LT George Howell. Fair winds and following seas.