Greetings from our Nation’s Capital! These are unique and busy times here in Washington, D.C. as we prepare the first budget for our new president. As expected, resource sponsors across the military are experiencing an increased examination of their portfolios. My observation is that this sort of scrutiny clearly distills the attributes that distinguish our most valuable military resources and clarifies the debate over which programs provide the best return for our taxpayer dollars. The submarine’s attributes of stealth, persistence, flexibility, endurance, responsiveness, and firepower translate into an enormously valuable and versatile asset for the Combatant Commander. Our submarines are useful not only to our Fleets, but also to national security decision makers who routinely see the results of our submarine deployments. I thank each of you that sail in our submarines or support these dedicated efforts.
Over the past few months I have been able to leave the beltway to visit several of our bases. From east to west and north to south, our all volunteer Submarine Force is doing a phenomenal job. Let there be no doubt, people are the lifeblood of our success. My perch here in D.C. allows me to uniquely observe the journey of the products from our submarines to the highest levels of government. The Commanding Officers of USS Ohio (SSGN-726), USS Philadelphia (SSN-690), USS Jacksonville (SSN-699), USS Asheville (SSN-758), USS Jefferson City (SSN-759), USS Montpelier (SSN-765), and USS Connecticut (SSN-22) have all come to Washington D.C. to deliver valuable information from their respective deployments. These products make it easy for me to talk about the unique value of submarines to non-submariners inside the beltway.
Two of my most valuable recent visits were to our ballistic missile submarine bases in Bangor, Wash., and Kings Bay, Ga. This issue’s coverage of the 1,000th TRIDENT patrol celebrations provides a snapshot of what I was able to witness first-hand. The training and weapons facilities at both these bases maintain impeccably high standards and form a critical component of our overall TRIDENT program success. I would like to thank the crew and wardroom of USS Wyoming (SSBN-742) (GOLD) for briefing me on their recent patrol, the crew and wardroom of USS West Virginia (SSBN-736)(BLUE) for a great meal and detailed tour of their fine warship, and all of the outstanding members of Team Bangor and Team Kings Bay that took the time to share their expertise during my visits. As many of you know, the process for determining the requirements for the replacement to Ohio-class SSBNs are in full swing. The insights gained during my visits to Kings Bay and Bangor are proving invaluable as we continue working hard to define the requirements to replace Ohio-class, gear up for the Nuclear Posture Review, and support the Quadrennial Defense Review this year.
The Virginia-class continues on its steady course for success. In addition to USS New Hampshire’s (SSN-778) commissioning last October, PCU New Mexico (SSN-779) was christened on Dec. 13, 2008. We also signed the Virginia Block III contract on Dec. 22, 2008. The contract purchases eight submarines between 2009-2013 and ramps up to two per year production in 2011. Major waypoints in 2009 include California (SSN-781) keel laying in May, New Mexico (SSN-779) commissioning in November, and Missouri (SSN-780) christening in December.
USS Ohio (SSGN-726) (BLUE) completed the maiden deployment for the SSGN class last December. UNDERSEA WARFARE has chronicled the SSGN’s exciting story of transitioning from program idea to on-time, on-cost delivery of warfighting capability to the combatant commander. The success of Ohio’s operations and the capabilities the SSGN class offers is recognized beyond the submarine, special operations, and joint warfighting community. Navy, Defense and Congressional Leaders are excited about the options SSGN brings to the table, and we are developing new ways to employ her impressive capabilities every day. USS Florida (SSGN-728) and USS Michigan (SSGN-727) are deployed and continue to provide value to our nation. Later this year USS Georgia (SSGN-729) will make her maiden deployment as an SSGN.
In mid-March, I had the good fortune of hosting the Submarine Force’s Junior Officers of the Year and their spouses here in D.C. I was invigorated by the opportunity to spend time with these very impressive folks and obtain a fix on what is on the minds of these future leaders of the force. All of this year’s Junior Officers of the Year are in the Downlink section of this issue and I urge you to congratulate them on their accomplishments.
On Nov. 21, 2008 we said good-bye to our oldest and most unique submarine at the NR-1 deactivation ceremony in Groton, Conn. NR-1 claims an impressive alumni of distinguished crews and a legacy of accomplishments that no platform may ever again be able to match. We also said good-bye to another of our platforms at the inactivation ceremony for the Deep Submergence Recovery Vehicle Mystic (DSRV-1) on Feb. 13, 2009.
The dawn of spring always signals the approach of another birthday for our Submarine Force. I hope that everyone takes time to participate in one of the many 109th Submarine Birthday Ball celebrations, you have certainly earned it!
For our N87 staff, I wish farewell to the following officers: RDML Pat Brady, CAPT Lorin Selby, CAPT James Stevens, CAPT John Cottingham, LCDR Robert Haldeman, LT Jon Ahlstrom, and LT Jared Smith.
I would like to welcome aboard CDR Woods Brown, CDR Paul Spear, LT Pat McDonnell, LT Jamie Cook, YN1 Christopher Church, Mr. Bob Parent, Mr. Steve Schreppler, and Mr. Seth Rubin. Finally, I want to thank all those in and out of uniform that support the Submarine Warfare Directorate. I know I can continue to count on your support.