Carl, thanks for that kind introduction.
Fellow submariners, ladies, and distinguished guests: I certainly realize how important it is to come out and speak with some of the true heroes of the Submarine Force and I am truly honored to be in the presence of such a proud group of submariners tonight. I thank each one of you for your steadfast, distinguished service and continued devotion to the defense of this great nation, and I’m happy to see all of you here.
Before I proceed, I would like to give special thanks to the backbone of all submariners- the ladies here tonight. Just as it was in your day, we could not do what we do without the love and support from the home front. The spouses of today’s submariners are canting on that most important tradition blazed by you. So again ladies, thank you for all that you do and you all look wonderful tonight.
At great personal risk- and no one knows the awesome power of the oceans like sailors- you voluntarily took to the sea, protecting the liberty of future generations, and your deeds are an inspiration to us all.
Each of you contributed to establishing and enhancing our rich submarine culture. We have a long and rich history of esprit de corps and camaraderie. Submariners today exemplify the Navy’s ethos with integrity, effective leadership, discipline, honor, courage, and commitment to mission accomplishment- but those traits were first planted and executed by you!
With that said, I want you to know how your service has made a difference to the submariners of today. Your professionalism, sacrifices, and commitment to each other lives on in the submariners of today.
Not that I need to start you off this evening with a history lesson, but I feel it’s appropriate to highlight at every opportunity the accomplishments of those that set the tone for the Submarine Force we are today. I won’t bore you by putting you through all the history. However, there are countless impressive accomplishments that submariners contributed to and I think it’s worth mentioning and remembering a few of them here tonight.
Employing the extremely reliable boats of GA TO, BALAO, and TENCH classes, the Submarine Force scored the most complete victory of any force in any theater of war between 1939 and 1945.
In spite of a hesitant beginning due to the Pearl Harbor surprise and difficulties with defective torpedoes, the Submarine Force destroyed 1,314 enemy ships totaling 5.3 million tons, which translated, into fifty-five percent of all enemy ships lost.
Out of 16,000 submariners, the force lost 375 officers and 3, 131 enlisted men in fifty-two submarines. Even though it was a tragic and significant loss to the Force, the numbers equated to the lowest casualty rate of any combatant submarine service on any side during WWII.
Dollar for dollar and man for man, the submarine is the coun- try’s most economical weapon. Comprising only 1.6 percent of the Navy’s WWII personnel, the submarine service accounted for 55 percent of all enemy shipping destroyed.
Records for enemy shipping sunk by U.S. submarines during WWII are held by two boats built by Electric Boat. USS FLASHER sank 100,231 tons of Japanese shipping, while USS TAUTOG holds the record for the most ships sunk –
In comparison, while the United States lost 52 submarines in WWII, the Germans lost 782 submarines and the Japanese lost Twenty-three of the Japanese subs lost were victims of the American submarine service.
More decorations for valor have been awarded, per man, to the submarine service than any other Navy branch.
So that got me thinking-how are yesterday’s submariners the same or different from today’s submarine sailors?
First: Submarine sailor’s can still fix anything. The Mark 1 Mod 0 Blue Jacket of today is smart and technically savvy. I’ve watched them tear down broken gear and save the mission or get the ship underway on time more than I can recall, just like you did when you were serving.
Second: the people do not change! Torpedo men. Auxiliary- men. Sonarmen. Electricians. Chiefs! XO’s. Captains. Although our boats today are a little more technologically advanced, they still need the same attention to detail and loving care that you provided to your boats when you were on active service.
Third: the boats are tough. Submarines require no vulnerable underway logistics chain nor depend on mutual defense from other platforms for survivability.
In fact, on any given day, an average of 30 U.S. submarines are underway. Typically, 10 attack submarines and 3 guided missile submarines are forward deployed and 6 SSBNs are at sea providing strategic deterrence as the most survivable component of our nuclear strategic force.
Today, the Submarine Force provides approximately one-third of our warships but uses only about 7 percent of the people and about 10 percent of the budget to achieve this effect.
These warships provide U.S. combatant commanders highly capable, multi-mission, cost-effective platforms needed to support both the maritime strategy and the U.S. national security objectives around the globe- just like it was when you were serving in them.
So I guess things haven’t changed all that much, have they? I like to think of occasions like this one tonight as a time when we give our dolphins a good emotional polishing. Those of us still wearing the uniform too often get lost in the day to day hoopla: working on quals, doing underpays, stores loads for the upcoming patrol or deployment, gathering data for the message the XO needs to send to squadron, removing rust from those brackets under the deck plates in Seawater Bay so they can be painted, giving a checkout to help Fireman Timmy get off the delinquent list. We should remember, and take pride in who we are more often. We should pause to remember that it was good folks like you who sacrificed to make our Submarine Force what it is today. Our predecessors passed down their example of excellence, skill and audacity to us.
Every one of today’s submariners owes something of what he is to a sea dad who put his ann around us and helped us to trace those difficult systems, to find those Nash float valves, to properly operate that portable submersible pump, to stay out of trouble while on liberty overseas.
Those sea dads had their own mentors and so on back to the first crew of USS HOLLAND in 1900. The legacy of excellence that marks submariners continues, passed down from those brave souls of WWII who gave their all, to our Cold War heroes, and finally to today’s gifted and dedicated submariners who are skillfully performing their difficult missions around the world, with the same level of tenacity, fortitude, and valor that has always been the hallmark of the Submarine Force.
The circle is unbroken, the brotherhood remains strong. So rest easy, and be comforted in the fact that your legacy lives on.
Since we started this submarine business some years ago, our boats have evolved through a variety of shapes and sizes. The result of this technology and experience has brought us to the newest and most technologically advanced submarines ever to have joined our fleet; the Virginia Class SSN and the SSGN.
The most capable submarine in the world, the Virginia Class persons missions in both littorals and deep water across the spectrum of all submarine warfare mission areas. These submarines are coming on line at a steady pace and about 20% under budget. In July of this year, we commissioned our 7’h Virginia Class submarine (USS MISSOURI). The next 5 submarines in this class are CALIFORNIA, MISSISSIPPI, MINNESOTA, NORTH DAKOTA, and the JOHN WARNER. JOHN WARNER (SSN 785) is expected to be delivered in April 2015. We will start building two of these submarines per year beginning next year.
The SSGN platform is the Navy’s premier Irregular Warfare platform and is delivering on its promise of unmatched special operations forces and strike capability and capacity. This year marshaled another chapter in submarine history as all four SSGN’s were simultaneously deployed to our combatant commanders with tremendous success. Not just underway- but FULLY deployed! What a weapon for our Combatant Commanders!
For fifty years, strategic ballistic missile submarines have stood ready to defend our nation. Our Ohio Class ballistic missile submarines continue to provide the most survivable component of the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent force. About half of these submarines are on patrol on any given day, keeping the peace silently throughout the world’s oceans. With l 34 consecutive successful flight tests, the Trident JI (05) strategic weapons system continues to demonstrate itself as a credible deterrent. Plans are underway for the construction of the Ohio Class replacement. Research and design efforts should allow for construction to begin on the OHIO replacement in 2019.
The workhorse of the force continues to be our 688 class submarines. The demand signal from combatant commanders is high for these submarines, and our submarine crews continually raise to the occasion; meeting those demands.
Speaking of our submarine crews, we continue to build upon a strong foundation of selecting and training the very best people. So let me tell you a bit about what they’re doing in your Submarine Force today.
-As of the middle of this August, I 04 submarine sailors were boots on ground in direct support of the global war on terror. They’re operating completely out of rate in areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and other hotpots around the globe. Their performance has been outstanding, receiving high praise from Joint Force Combatant Commanders.
-Over the past two years, we’ ve seen a 50% reduction in alcohol related offenses within the Force. This is largely due to the outstanding deck plate leadership being provided by the Chief Petty Officer community. This has resulted in a more positive image within the communities we home port our ships and has reduced the loss of otherwise outstanding sailors due to behavioral issues.
-Retention has remained consistently on par with the Navy’s goal. (The sailors are motivated and staying Navy). Again, this is as a result of the strong leader- ship being provided in our force today as we continue to apply focus to the people programs that take care of sailors and their families.
-Facing significant changes in our submarine culture with the integration of women to serve aboard submarines and the ban of smoking aboard submarines, your sailors are meeting the challenges head on. We will see the first female officers aboard SSBN and SSGN platoons by the end of next year. As of 31 December of this year, smoking tobacco will no longer be al- lowed onboard submarines. The crews have identified the positive aspects of each of these changes and realize that a healthier and more diverse force will be created as a result.
Clearly, the best part of my job is getting to interact with our sailors. I have been fortunate as a squadron Command Master Chief and now as the Force Master Chief to see our sailors in action. The hard work and enthusiasm displayed every day along with the technical savvy they possess is why we are a more ready and capable force than ever before.
I am extremely proud of all the sailors in our force. As I visit with our sailors, pride and professionalism runs deep. Everyone in this room has contributed to the pride and professionalism that the Submarine Force depicts today. Your legacy as submarine veterans is alive and well in today’s Submarine Force.
Once again, I would like to close tonight by thanking all submariners for your service. You have served honorably and proudly, and have paved the way for those who follow you. God bless you and keep you.