|Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay|
|Kings Bay, Georgia|
SuBase Kings Bay insignia
|Controlled by||United States Navy|
|Built||1 July 1978|
|In use||6 July 1979 - present|
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is a base of the United States Navy located adjacent to the town of St. Marys in Camden County, Georgia, in southeastern Georgia, and 38 miles (61 km) from Jacksonville, Florida. The Submarine Base is the U.S. Atlantic Fleet's home port for U.S. Navy Fleet ballistic missile nuclear submarines armed with Trident missile nuclear weapons. This submarine base covers about 16,000 acres (6,400 hectares) of land, of which 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) are protected wetlands.
Early in the 19th century, much of what is now the submarine base was the site of several plantations, including Cherry Point, Harmony Hall, New Canaan, Marianna and Kings Bay. Beginning in the 1790s, Thomas King built a plantation along the bay. John Houston McIntosh built a considerably larger plantation known as New Canaan, where he grew cotton and sugar cane.
The plantation system declined following the Civil War, and the land was broken up into smaller holdings. No residents were paid the going rate for the land that was used to build the submarine base. One land owner was paid four thousand dollars for 62 acres of deep water land. Such residents harvested shrimp, fish and other seafood, and trapped and hunted to supplement small-scale farming of corn, sugar and other vegetables.
The US Army began to acquire 7,000 acres (28.33 km2; 10.94 sq mi) of land at Kings Bay in 1954 to build a military ocean terminal to ship ammunition in case of a national emergency. Construction began in 1955 and was completed in 1958. A 200' wide channel was dredged to Cumberland Sound, and included two turning basins.
The most prominent feature of the terminal was its 2,000-foot (610 m)-long, 87-foot (27 m)-wide concrete and steel wharf (600 by 26 m). It had three parallel railroad tracks, enabling the simultaneous loading of several ammunition ships from rail cars and trucks.
Elsewhere on the base, the Army laid 47 miles (76 km) of railroad tracks. Spurs off the main line ran into temporary storage areas protected by earthen barricades. These mounds of dirt, still prominent features in many areas of the base, were designed to localize damage in case of explosive accidents.
It was soon realized that there was no immediate operational need for the installation, so it was placed in an inactive ready status, and Blue Star Shipping Company signed a lease to use the wharf in 1959.
Although the Army Post was never activated to serve its primary purpose, it was used twice for other missions. In 1964, as Hurricane Dora hammered the area, nearly 100 area residents were sheltered aboard base. Also, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, an Army Transportation Battalion of 1,100 personnel and 70 small boats took up position at Kings Bay.
The chain of events that led to today's combination of high-tempo submarine operations at Kings Bay and the complex construction project that reshaped the face of thousands of acres of land began in 1975. At that time, treaty negotiations between Spain and the United States were in progress. A proposed change to the United States naval basing agreement with Spain included the withdrawal of the fleet ballistic-missile submarine squadron, Submarine Squadron 16, from its operational base at Rota, Spain, north-west of Gibraltar, giving easy access to Atlantic Ocean patrol areas. Anticipating that this would take place, the Chief of Naval Operations ordered studies to select a new refit site on the East Coast.
In January 1976, the negotiators initialed a draft treaty between Spain and the United States. It called for withdrawal of the submarine squadron from Rota by July 1979. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in June 1976.
After careful review, Kings Bay was selected in November 1976, shortly after the election of the Georgian Jimmy Carter as the President. Soon afterward, the first Navy personnel arrived in the Kings Bay area and started preparations for the orderly transfer of property from the Army to the Navy. Naval Submarine Support Base Kings Bay was established in a developmental status 1 July 1978. The base—now Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, not only occupies the former Army terminal land, but several thousand additional acres.
Preparations for the arrival of the submarine squadron went forward with haste throughout the remainder of 1978 and into 1979. Commander Submarine Squadron 16 greeted the submarine tender Simon Lake, when it arrived at Kings Bay on 2 July 1979. Four days later, USS James Monroe entered Kings Bay and moored alongside Simon Lake's starboard side to begin a routine refit in preparation for another nuclear weapons deterrence patrol. Kings Bay has been an operating submarine base ever since that time.
In May 1979, the U.S. Navy selected Kings Bay as its preferred East Coast site for the new Ohio-class Trident submarines. On 23 October 1980, after a one-year environmental impact study was completed, and with Congressional approval, the Secretary of the Navy announced that Kings Bay would be the future home port for the new Trident-missile submarines in the Atlantic Ocean.
The decision to base the Trident submarines at Kings Bay started the largest peacetime construction program ever undertaken by the U.S. Navy. The program took nine years to complete at a cost of about $1.3 billion. The building project included the construction of three major commands: Trident Training Facility (TTF), Trident Refit Facility (TRF), and Strategic Weapons Facility, Atlantic (SWFLANT).
On 15 January 1989, the first Trident submarine, Tennessee, arrived at Kings Bay. She was followed by Pennsylvania later that same year. West Virginia was commissioned at Kings Bay in October 1990, and she was followed by Kentucky in July 1991; Maryland in June 1992; Nebraska in July 1993; Rhode Island in July 1994; Maine in August 1995, and Wyoming in July 1996. The commissioning of Louisiana in September 1997 gave Kings Bay its maximum number of ten Trident submarines.
The enormous construction and organizational effort put forth by all the commands at Kings Bay reached their first goal in late March 1990, when the Trident II (D-5) missile made its first deterrent patrol on board the USS Tennessee.
The end of the Cold War and the reorganization of Naval and Air Force strategic weapons forces during the 1990s had a significant effect on the submarine base at Kings Bay. A high-level nuclear weapons policy review recommended that the U.S. Navy reduce its number of Trident Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines from 18 to 14 by 2005.
The decision was made to temporarily decommission the four oldest Ohio-class Trident missile submarines for extensive shipyard work, in order to convert them into guided-missile submarines (SSGNs) carrying large numbers (about 150) conventionally armed Tomahawk cruise missiles. These converted submarines also have accommodations for significant numbers of Navy SEALs or Marines.
Furthermore, several Trident submarines were transferred from the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific Fleet. USS Pennsylvania departed on 4 August 2003 and USS Kentucky departed on 24 August 2003, bound for the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington, as part of balancing the Trident fleet. In addition, both USS Louisiana and USS Maine were later[when?] transferred to the Pacific Fleet.
Both USS Florida and USS Georgia have completed[when?] their conversions into Tomahawk missile-carrying SSGN submarines and now have their home ports at the Kings Bay Submarine Base.
Submarine Group 10 was commissioned January 1, 1989, and is the senior commander at Kings Bay. Group 10 is a subordinate command to Commander Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet. It exercises command over various commands and units assigned, including operational and administrative control of the Ohio-class submarines based at Submarine Base Kings Bay.
Group 10 is the local coordinating authority for all matters assigned by the submarine force commander and exercises direct control over the administration and training of submarine offcrews at Kings Bay. Specifically included in these responsibilities are the proper integration and coordination of the facilities dedicated to training support of the Trident system.
As of 2009, Submarine Squadron 16 provided administrative support for the East Coast-based Ohio-class SSGN submarines. The squadron coordinates planning and executing all SSGN maintenance with Trident Refit Facility and is responsible for all material readiness and fiscal responsibility. In addition Submarine Squadron 16 will provide support for SSBNs during and after major overhaul periods.
Submarine Squadron 20 provides the same kind of support services as Submarine Squadron 16, except that it is responsible for the East Coast-based Ohio-class SSBN and the strategic deterrence missions those SSBNs undertake.
The submarine center provides centralized administrative and support services to the submarine squadron assisting them in their responsibilities for material, personnel, training and logistics of assigned and visiting submarines.
Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic (SWFLANT) provides strategic missiles and strategic weapons system support to the ballistic missile fleet. The command is responsible for assembling the D-5 missile and processing missile guidance and launcher subsystem components.
Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, Kings Bay conducts security operations in Direct Support (DS) of SWFLANT. The battalion is commanded by a senior Marine Corps officer and provides security operations as approved by the Chief of Naval Operations, in coordination with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, As of June 27, 2008, MCSFCO was restructured from a company to a battalion. A similar sister battalion is stationed with the West Coast submarine base in Bangor, Washington. In addition to Marine Corps security forces, they are joined by Navy Master-at-Arms and Navy Law Enforcement/Security Officers with the 6490 designator. Both Masters-at-Arms and Navy Law Enforcement/Security Officers are part of the larger U.S. Navy Security Forces.
One of the first Maritime Force Protection Units was established by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) at Kings Bay. The Maritime Force Protection Unit provides escort protection for the submarines as they transit on the surface, to and from their homeports.
The Trident Refit Facility (TRF) is the largest tenant command at Kings Bay and has kept a significant portion of the United States Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines at sea since 1985. TRF provides quality industrial-level and logistics support for the incremental overhaul, modernization, and repair of Trident submarines. It also furnishes global submarine supplies and spare parts support. In addition, TRF provides maintenance and support services to other submarines, regional maintenance customers, and other activities as requested.
The Trident Refit Facility possesses the largest covered drydock in the world, measuring 700 feet (210 m) long, 100 feet (30 m) wide, and 67 feet (20 m) deep. A state-of-the-art Magnetic Silencing Facility (MSF) provides degaussing services, including ranging and the removal of permanent magnetism for submarines of the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy, as well as for steel-hulled surface warships. The MSF is the only facility of its kind on the East Coast, and it is also used for research for development of future magnetic systems. The Defensive Ordnance Support Facility maintains and stores all of the torpedoes carried by the Trident missile submarines for self-defense.
The Trident Training Facility (TTF), with over 520,000 square feet (48,000 m²) of classroom and office space, trains sailors in the skills necessary to operate and maintain the Trident submarine and its systems. TTF has an essential role in support of the Trident submarines and uses equipment trainers (simulators) to simulate, as realistically as possible, the actual equipment on the submarine. Trainers include damage control, fire fighting, ship control, navigation, and most weapons and engineering subsystems.
TTF's mission is to provide basic, advanced, functional, refresher and team training to Trident submarine crew members and submarine support personnel, in order to increase and maintain the knowledge and proficiency in specific skills and to provide specialized training. The training facility has also been known to train foreign navies. The United Kingdom's Vanguard-class submarines, through the Polaris Sales Agreement, shares the Trident missile and associated weapon subsystems with the United States and their sailors regularly visit the Kings Bay Naval Base. Additionally, the Colombian Navy trained at TTF because of the lack of high technology trainers in their own country.
USS Rhode Island (SSBN-740) being escorted by tug boats to Kings Bay.
USS Alaska (SSBN-732) arrives at Kings Bay.
USS Georgia (SSGN-729) prepares to leave Kings Bay.