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“On April 11, 1900, the Holland became the first submarine purchased by the U.S. Navy. This spring we celebrated the 109th anniversary of that event as around the world we gathered together with family and shipmates to celebrate our legacy of accomplishment.”

 

VADM Jay Donnelly, USN, Commander, Submarine Force

 

On April 11, 1900, the Holland became the first submarine purchased by the U.S. Navy. This past spring we celebrated the 109th anniversary of that event as around the world we gathered together with family and shipmates to celebrate our legacy of accomplishment.

Today, we continue to build on the successful legacy of the Submarine Force. Our submarines are in increasingly high demand because of their proven ability to be multi-mission, cost-effective platforms needed to support U.S. National Security objectives around the globe. Often “on scene—but unseen”, our submarines provide the unique capabilities that play a critical role in the broader Overseas Contingency Operations and Irregular Warfare campaign.

In addition to our operational successes, we have achieved several acquisition successes with the Virginia Class Submarine Program and Guided Missile Submarine (SSGN) Conversion Programs. We are meeting our challenge to reduce the cost of Virginia Class submarines by approximately 20%, thus enabling us to start building two SSNs per year, providing stability to the industrial base, and mitigating the decline in the number of operational submarines. We are working on designs for the Ohio Replacement capability to ensure there is no gap in strategic coverage when the Ohio-class SSBNs begin to retire. Our SSGNs have all completed conversion on time and on budget and have been delivered back to the operational Fleet. Initial assessments of their warfighting utility are impressive.

In May, we welcomed USS Florida (SSGN-728) home from her 13-month maiden deployment as a guided missile submarine. This was the first-ever east coast Ohio-class SSGN to be forward deployed. USS Georgia (SSGN-729) will now begin her first deployment as an SSGN, and follows a west coast deployment by USS Michigan (SSGN-727), as we continue delivering on the promise of unmatched Special Operations Forces and Strike capability. SSGNs are now considered the Navy’s premier Irregular Warfare platform.

As I write this, our first five Virginia class boats begin the next chapter in adding value to our Force as we prepare to add a sixth to the fleet, New Mexico (SSN-779), this November. USS Hawaii (SSN-776) has arrived in Pearl Harbor as the first of the class to change homeports to the Pacific, with USS Texas (SSN-775) to follow this fall. USS New Hampshire (SSN-778) has returned from a EUCOM deployment where they supported the 100th anniversary of Norway’s Submarine Force and USS Virginia (SSN-774) is preparing for a deployment.

As we celebrate our accomplishments, we should also reflect on recent incidents and close-calls that are cause to renew our focus on what we do each day. Submariners have long exemplified the Navy’s Ethos of integrity, decisive leadership, honor, discipline, and commitment to mission accomplishment. We must continue to demand the highest standards because the work we do is vitally important, and the nation relies on us every day. This is why we select and train the very best people, provide them with the most reliable and capable warships we can design and build, and hold people accountable for their actions. We will not tolerate any actions that erode the values that make us the world’s best Submarine Force. Our legacy of accomplishment will only be maintained through leadership at all levels upholding a culture of excellence, professionalism, verbatim compliance, attention to detail, and learning from our successes and failures.

This issue of UNDERSEA WARFARE magazine focuses on the successful completion of Ice Exercise 2009 (ICEX 09) during which USS Helena (SSN-725) and USS Annapolis (SSN-760) demonstrated some of the unique ways our submarines support our Maritime Strategy. The concealment provided by the sea enables submarines the ability to conduct undetected and non-provocative operations, to be survivable, and to attack both land and sea targets without warning around the world. Our ability to operate in the Arctic Ocean reinforces this message and shows that submarines have the ability to operate in areas inaccessible to other forces. Recent discussions in the press have highlighted the economic importance of the Arctic and how global climate changes will increase the maritime traffic and the number of countries interested in operating in that region. Maintaining the technical and operational expertise required to safely and effectively operate in this unique environment is an important reason why we have continued to operate in this region for more than 50 years.

It remains a challenging and exciting time to be in submarines. I ask that you keep the good ideas coming and continue to display leadership with the aim to make a lasting contribution to our undersea warfighting enterprise.

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