NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KINGS BAY, Ga. —
“I hope we don’t ever need them, but if we do, these guys are ready,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said after meeting with sailors from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alaska here today.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said he was impressed by the sailors and Marines he met at the base on the Florida-Georgia border. The Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, accompanied the chairman during his visit.
Dunford said he wanted to “further his education” about the strategic nuclear triad. The USS Alaska is a nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine that carries 24 Trident D-5 nuclear-tipped missiles. It is, as one sailor said, “floating deterrence.”
A crew of 155 live in and around the various bits of machinery and weapons aboard the Alaska, which in Navy parlance is called a boat, like other submarines. It is a big boat, measuring 560 feet long and 42 feet wide. Blue and Gold crews take turns manning the boat to optimize the time it is on patrol. It is one of six ballistic missile submarines and two guided-missile submarines based at Kings Bay as part of Submarine Group 10.
Trident Training Facility
Dunford met with officers and enlisted personnel, and visited the Trident submarine training facility here. This is a 500,000-square-foot facility, where sailors can train up even as the submarine is being sailed by another crew.
The training facility -- one of the largest buildings in Georgia -- allows sailors to simulate the jobs they would perform on the boat. This includes everything from patching leaks and fighting fires to rehearsing the launching procedure for Trident missiles and loading and firing torpedoes.
Dunford boarded the Alaska, which was floating inside a huge building the sailors call “the barn.” Security was extremely tight, as it should be when nuclear weapons are in the mix. The general observed sailors conducting a drill aboard the boat and then toured it.
The chairman will visit bases housing the other two legs of the strategic nuclear triad -- strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles -- in the coming months. He has already visited U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and the Joint Interagency Space Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)