A Sailor assigned to theOhio-class ballistic missile submarine USSRhode Island(SSBN-740) stands at attention
while top military leaders board the submarine during a ceremony marking the 1,000th TRIDENT submarine patrol.
Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin O'Brien.
The Honorable Donald Winter, then-Secretary of the Navy, acknowledged the Sailors and support community of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) during the 1,000th TRIDENT Patrol ceremony, held on Feb. 19, 2009, at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.
The commemorative ceremony marked the milestone of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, also known as “TRIDENT” submarines, conducting 1,000 successful patrol periods since USS Ohio (SSBN-726) completed its first strategic deterrent patrol in 1982.
The milestone “represents the great contributions our Navy has been able to make to our Nation and I think it is the type of opportunity that we need to seize upon to celebrate and thank both those that were directly involved as well as the broader community that has provided the support,” said Winter. “When I say broader support community, I mean everything from the industrial base that provides this but also the communities that we live in and work in that provide such expansive support to the families as well as the individual Sailors.”
For over 27 years, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine has remained the most survivable form of deterrence. This milestone highlights the importance of strategic deterrence in today’s world and the Navy’s 14 Ohio-class SSBNs that support this crucial tenant of the Maritime Strategy.
Winter and several senior leaders delivered the ceremony’s addresses to mark the momentous occasion. Gen. Kevin Chilton, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command; Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations; Gen. James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Vice Adm. John Donnelly, Commander, Submarine Force; and Congressman Jack Kingston expressed their appreciation to the submariners, families, and supporters of the SSBN throughout its lifetime.
“As your Submarine Force Commander, I am extraordinarily proud of our men in the SSBN Force and all those who support them. The true strength of the ballistic missile submarine lies in the extremely talented and motivated Sailors who have voluntarily chosen to serve in the submarine community,” Donnelly said.
USS Rhode Island (SSBN-740)(BLUE) hosted the ceremony and served as the ceremonial representative of the original 18 Ohio-class submarines and crews who contributed to the 1,000 patrol milestone.
“Today you will hear several of our nation’s top military leaders talk about this legacy of excellence, the great people involved in maintaining this capability, and the continued importance of our Strategic Mission,” said Donnelly. “It is these Forces, represented here by Rhode Island, who have been a cornerstone in the security of the United States for more than 50 years…. and no one should doubt our capabilities or our resolve to defend the U.S. and our allies’ interests by deterring aggression.”
Strategic deterrence has been the sole mission of the fleet ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) since its inception in 1960. The SSBN provides the Nation’s most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability. Virtually undetectable, the Ohio-class SSBN can maneuver with impunity through the world’s oceans. As the sea-based leg of U.S. strategic deterrent forces, the current 14 TRIDENT SSBNs (each capable of carrying up to 24 TRIDENT missiles) carry more than 50 percent of the total U.S. strategic warheads.
“America’s leaders place special trust and confidence in members of the Submarine Force. You go to sea entrusted with weapons of incredible destructive power, propelled by power plants of unbelievable sophistication,” Chilton said. “You go to sea armed for Armageddon, while charged with the solemn responsibility of preventing it.”
Congressman Jack Kingston described the submarines at Kings Bay as “one of the strongest weapons systems the world has ever seen. The destructive power carried onboard TRIDENT submarines has been faithfully safeguarded without incident for almost 50 years by our Sailors.”
“It’s because of these boats that you and I can enjoy the freedoms we enjoy, The rest of us can go to work every day, take our kids to baseball practice after school, shop at the grocery store and go fishing in Crooked River without fear because they have kept the watch. For this we thank these Sailors today.” Kingston said.1
Dignitaries and guests stand during the national anthem at the start of the 1,000th TRIDENT Patrol Commemoration Ceremony
Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay.Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tiffini M. Jones.
Maritime dominance will remain vital to U.S. national security. In order to respond to nuclear aggression or threats, the sea-leg of the triad is ready and vigilant, in a secure and survivable posture, able to respond rapidly to national tasking. “These are your dispensable contributions to the joint warfighting capability of the Nation,” said Chilton.
To commemorate the 1,000th milestone, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, sent a congratulatory letter to Commander Submarine Group TRIDENT. “From the Cold War to the Global War on Terrorism, our Sailors completed the strategic deterrent mission with courage and commitment, consistently setting the standard — not just among the Submarine Force but across the Fleet,” wrote Mullen.
On Feb. 11, 2009 USS Wyoming (SSBN-742)(BLUE) successfully completed the 1,000th TRIDENT patrol and returned to its homeport of Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. The crew members were recognized at the ceremony and served as honored guests of Group TRIDENT.
“I am proud that our Sailors are here today. Sailors who for decades have sailed on the open waters, those who have enabled those Sailors to do their job and especially their families who stand by and support and encourage and enable the Sailors so that we continue to be able to uphold those high standards. They have never let us down, they never will let us down because the culture that they foster and the culture that they pass on to the next generation is what really makes a difference,” Roughead said.
Wyoming, whose motto “Cowboy Up,” was the 17th Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine authorized by Congress to be built and the fourth ship to bear the name Wyoming. Christened on July 15, 1995, Wyoming began its first patrol on August 19, 1997 and has completed 38 patrols to date.
Wyoming Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Petty Officer(SS) Sean Landry, referred to the honor of conducting the 1,000th Strategic Patrol as “icing on the cake for my dedicated Sailors.”
Platform participants met with SSBN Sailors throughout the day to extend appreciation for their contributions to the milestone.
According to Landry, “The post ceremony all hands call with the Secretary of the Navy and my crew was such an awesome privilege that my guys will cherish forever and definitely made a lasting impression on the both the young and seasoned crewmembers.”
“I am very proud of my men. It was so professionally rewarding to see them honored in person by such an impressive collection of their senior leaders,” said Cmdr. William Combes, commanding officer, Wyoming. “The 1,000th TRIDENT Patrol is obviously much bigger than my 172 Sailors — all those that have patrolled before, all the support the Wyoming receives here in Kings Bay, and the trust and support of the people of this great nation. Yet, it is their accomplishment, and the recognition thereof, that made the ceremony so special to me.”
The platform guests at the ceremony were (front row, left to right) Gen. Kevin Chilton, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command; Gen. James Cartwright, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Congressman Jack Kingston; the Honorable Donald Winter, then-Secretary of the Navy; Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations; Vice Adm. John Donnelly, Commander, Submarine Force; (back row, left to right) Rear Adm. Stephen Johnson, Commander, Strategic Systems Programs; Rear Adm. Timothy Giardina, Commander Group TRIDENT; Cmdr. Donald Troast, Submarine Force Chaplain; Cmdr. Bob Clark, Commanding Officer USSRhode Island(SSBN-740)(BLUE); and Cmdr. William Combes, Commanding Officer USSWyoming(SSBN-742)(BLUE).
1 A portion of Rep. Kingston’s comments are quotes
from The Florida Time Union article published Feb. 20, 2009.