The Kings Bay region is a place that has been populated for thousands of years. Archeological research conducted under a Navy contract prior to development disclosed prehistoric Indian presence throughout the area.
Early in the 19th century, what is now the submarine base, was the site of two plantations, one owned by Thomas King, the other by John Mcintosh. Where the Port Servioes building is now located, King developed his plantation. Buying the land in the 1790’s, he developed a small plantation. Elsewhere on the base, John Houston Mcintosh built a considerably larger plantation which grew cotton and sugar cane.
The Army began to acquire land at Kings Bay in 1954 to build a military ocean terminal for shipping ammunition in event of a national emergency. By 1958, the Army’s $11 million project was completed. This construction included a 2,000-foot long, 87-foot wide concrete wharf, along ~1ith 47 miles of railroad tracks throughout the base. A 10-mile-long, 200-foot-wide channel, dredged by the Army to 32 feet, provided access between the bay and the ocean via the St. Marys entrance channel.
Because there was no immediate operational need for the installation, it was placed in an inactive ready status. Though never reactivated to serve in its primary role, it was used twice for other missions. In 1964, as Hurricane Dora hammered the area, nearly 100 area residents were sheltered aboard the base. Also, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, an Army Transportation Battalion or 1,100 men and 70 small boats took up positions at Kings Bay.
The chain of events which led to today’s combination of high tempo submarine operations out of Kings Bay and the complex construction project that is reshaping the race of thousands or acres of land, began in 1975. At that time, treaty negotiations between Spain and the United States were in progress relative to u.s. submarine presence in Rota, Spain. A proposed change to the agreement involved the withdrawal or the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Squadron — SUBRON 16 from its Rota base.
Anticipating this action, t~e Chief of Naval Operations ordered studies to select a new SSBN basing site on the East Coast of the United States.
In January, 1976, a draft treaty between Spain and the u.s. was initialed by the negotiators, calling for withdrawal of Squadron 16 from Rota by July, 1975. The treaty was later ratified by the u.s. Congress in June, 1976.
A site selection steering group evaluated more than 60 sites along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. By summer, 1976, the number was down to five: Narragansett Bay, RI; Cheatham Annex, VA; Charleston, SC; Kings Bay and Mosquito Lagoon, FL. A study to evaluate each site relative to cost and availability, explosive safety requirements, growth potential, etc. was conducted. From this study, Kings Bay was selected and the Navy’s decision was announced by the Secretary of the Navy in November, 1976.
In early 1978, the Navy began preparations with transfer of the property from the Army to the Navy.
On July 1, 1978, the Navy raised its fla& at Kings Bay and started preparing for the incoming squadron of submarines. One year and one day later, Commander Submarine Squadron Sixteen embarked aboard the Submarine Tender USS SIMON LAKE (AS 33), arrived at Kings Bay.
Four days later, USS JAMES MONROE (SSBN 622) pulled alongside the tender and began a routine refit. Since that time, Kings Bay has been an operational base, supporting 1/3 of the nation’s underwater deterrent force.
Meanwhile, in May, 1979, Kings Bay was selected by the Navy as its preferred site for an East Coast Strategic Submarine Base for support of TRIDENT and future generations of strategic submarines. In October, 1980, the Secretary of the Navy, Edward Hidalgo, officially announced the decision: Kings Bay would become the Atlantic home for the new OHIO-class submarines.
On April 1, 1982, the title of the base was changed from Naval Submarine Support Base to Naval Submarine Base — reflecting the growing significance of Kings Bay.
Today, the originally planned submarine support ba~e a facility to refit submarines homeported elsewhere — has nearly been completed. Its cost of about $125 million, comprises a package, sized to meet the demands of the mission of supporting a squadron of fleet ballistic missile submarines, a submarine tender, and a floating drydock.
The TRIDENT basing decision however touched off a building project of vastly larger magnitude. Through the 1980’s, the Navy will spend more than $1.7 billion in the military construction effort alone.
Current facilities will be expanded tC’ Il!eet the re~uirements that will enable Kings Bay to serve as a homeport, refit site and training facility for the Navy people that will opet·nte and n1aintain the next generation of strategic submarines that will arrive at the end of the decade.
In addition to adding to existjng facjljties, three major new commands will be added to the base.
A two-sided challenge is being ruet at Kings Bay. While the largest peacetime construction project in the history of the Navy is progressing, an operating squadron of strategic submarines depend on the Kings Bay facilities and the skills of the people assigned there, to meet their critical national defense mission.
NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KINGS BAY MISSION
The mission of the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, is to provide support to the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile System and to maintain and operate facilities for administration and personnel support for operations of the submarine force.
Also, within capabilitjes, Kings Bay provides logistic support to other activities of the Navy, and like all Naval installations, is ready to perform any other function which may be directed by higher authority.
Fleet Ballistic Hissile Submarint:s, the Navy’s strategic nuclear force, are equipped with sea-launched ballistic missiles for attack and with torpedoes for defense. As the most survivable component of the u.s. strategic nuclear forces, these submarines must be capable of executing a broad range of options upon receipt of directions from the national command authority.
They are highly survivable and reliable no matter how or when hostilities might be initiated. These qualities provide the basis for the fleet ballistic missile submarine force’s significant contribution to the overall strategic balance in the world today.
CDR Frank Evans
J01 Lamar Raker