image of VADM jay donnelly “This spring was an exciting time in the Submarine Force with a new Virginia-class submarine being added to the Fleet, the final SSGN being returned to service and another SSGN embarking on her maiden deployment. And while new ships are being built and commissioned, our third Virginia-class submarine, USS Hawaii (SSN 776), returned from her first operational deployment. This spring continued to bring great opportunities to the Submarine Force both at home and abroad.”
 
VADM Jay Donnelly, USN, Commander, Submarine Force

In April, I had the opportunity to travel to South America to meet with both Brazilian and Columbian military leaders. We exchanged ideas and looked for areas of increased cooperation as we continue to engage with partner nations to support the Maritime Strategy. As joint participants in the Diesel Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI) and other exchange programs, our forces train together to develop the relationships necessary to advance our countries’ shared interests. These exchange programs have also played a vital role in strengthening the foundation of regional security in the Americas.

Back at home, the integration of the first four SSGN submarines into the fleet is continuing with great success. USS Georgia (SSGN-729) held a return-to-service ceremony in King’s Bay in late March. USS Ohio (SSGN-726) is midway through her first deployment in the Western Pacific. Additionally, USS Florida (SSGN-728), departed on her maiden deployment as an SSGN in April. We now have two SSGNs forward deployed with a primary mission of providing a covertly positioned, quick response, large volume strike platform. This two-ship forward presence will continue for years to come.

With the challenge set by the Chief of Naval Operations of a two-ship per year procurement rate by FY12 for the Virginia-class submarine, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat continue to work as a well-coordinated team to provide us with high-quality submarines.

The next two Virginia-class submarines to celebrate milestones are New Mexico and New Hampshire. A keel authentication ceremony for New Mexico was held on April 12 at Northrop Grumman’s Shipbuilding sector in Newport News, Va. and New Hampshire was christened in Groton, Conn. on June 21.

Our fourth Virginia-class submarine, USS North Carolina (SSN-777), was commissioned May 3 at a very well-attended ceremony in Wilmington, N.C. with Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter as the featured speaker.

In late May, Exercise BOLD MONARCH 2008 (BMH 08), a live submarine escape and rescue exercise, was held in the Northern Skagerrak area of Norway. During the two week exercise, three submarines, one each from the Netherlands, Norway and Poland, were bottomed to simulate sinking. Support personnel and equipment from Canada, France Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, The Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States worked together to solve complex rescue and medical problems in a variety of demanding scenarios. SUBDEVRON FIVE was instrumental in coordinating the successful flyaway and installation of the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS) onboard the USNS Apache (T-ATF-172) in Stavanger, Norway.

This phased exercise culminated with a large scale coordinated rescue and evacuation of survivors from a disabled submarine.

This spring I also had the privilege of seeing many of you at our Submarine Birthday Balls honoring the significant legacy of our Submarine Force during its 108 year history. I had the opportunity to speak at a few of the events, where I conveyed some of the heroic achievements of World War II submarine legend, Rear Admiral Eugene Fluckey, and the Cold War heroes onboard USS Batfish (SSN-681). It is important to remember that the rich heritage of our Submarine Force today was forged by the professionalism and dedication of our predecessors.

I am certain that our submarines will continue to be in very high demand, and it’s our job to ensure they will be ready to perform any mission tasking while deployed. Dayin and day-out, our crews gather intelligence and shape the environment to help to avert the next conflict. Yet, if necessary, they stand ready to engage quickly and decisively. That is why I remain so proud of our Submarine Force.

signature for Jay Donnelly

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