Thank you Admiral Bruner-it is indeed a privilege and I am grateful to be here tonight at one of the premiere Submarine Balls in the world. (In fact I am grateful to be invited to any party these days. I will tell you CNO, this is the part of the job I did not see coming into this, I keep getting calls such as “hey about that invitation I sent you, I forgot…I have to wash my hair that night.. .the party is off’.)
I’d like to thank the event organizers who worked so hard to put this event together specifically, the event organizer LCDR Matthew Sweeney and his wife Amy. Matt and Amy please stand up, and let’s give them a round of applause. And the bagpiper who I thought was terrific, let’s give the piper a hand. We’ll also hear later on from the Navy band-“The Cruisers” under Chief Musician Leon Alexander. They are terrific so after dinner be sure to come on out and do some dancing. And lastly, the hotel and catering staff of the Crystal Gateway Maniot, just a terrific job tonight, thanks for having us back again this year. All of this, under the watchful eye of RADM Barry Bruner and team at OPNA V N97. Thank you.
Tonight there is no place a submariner would rather be-on station here deep inside the beltway, exercising the full range of our arsenal. We are not so much about power projection as we are about withering powerpoint slides, not so much about many multi-torpedo spreads like in WWII, but we do have our spreadsheets, salvos of them, many of them with command-enabled pivot tables. And we are not so much about submarine tracking, but just watch us enable track changes. That is humbling.
Ok, maybe not so much … but this is one of the very best Sub Balls in all the constellation of Sub Balls, that happen world-wide each April, and this is the greatest one. And it’s because of all of you-the terrific people in the D.C. area who come together tonight to celebrate. We come from all over the place and I’d like o take a little bit of time to recognize some of the tribes we have here in the room-truly spectacular.
I’d like to ask you, as I call your group, to raise your hands and maybe give a shout when I call you out. .. and let’s lead off with the team that will not let us down, all current and former Dolphin wearers-the nucleus of the community. Lets hear it for all current and former Dolphin wearers. You are the nucleus of the community. And CNO and Darleen you are the nucleus of the nucleus-it is so wonderful to have you here tonight.
And the rest of the Navy-NAVSEA, Installations Command, Fleet Cyber Command, Office of Naval Intelligence, Strategic Systems Program, the Chief of Chaplains joined us tonight to keep everything legit. Let’s give them a round.
Shipbuilders-I wish everyone in America could tour a shipyard to see what a spectacular thing this nation can do when it puts its mind to it. Please join me in welcoming our shipbuilders from Electric Boat and Newport News.
We also have a lot of private industry here tonight-many great supporters from our industrial base. Let’s give them a round of applause.
The next group is academics. They are so important to what we do. Johns Hopkins, Naval Academy, Penn State and all the academics. Lets hear it for them.
Along with that there are also a number of “Submariners to be” -midshipmen from USNA and Penn State. I’d like to see what kind of noise this group can make on their own. So let’s hear it from them.
I’d also like to welcome our friends and allies from foreign navies-all of the attaches-they were previously introduced and I thank you for joining us tonight.
Lastly and most important: I’d like to recognize our spouses and families. Suffice it to say, they deserve the loudest round of applause. Is there anyone I missed -raise your hand?
I probably missed some folks and I hereby designate you as friends and fans of the Submarine Force-the groupies of the Submarine Force. Tonight they have a back stage pass to celebrate with us.
So you can see that we are a great and diverse group. It is this diversity that makes us so strong. We come from everywhere. It’s a great strength and indeed our strongest asymmetric advantage. And tonight, this special night, we are all submariners.
I called down to Norfolk and cleared what I am about to do with V ADM Connor, and he has delegated authority to me to designate you all honorary submariners for one-night.. .you will find on your table under your coffee cup saucer your membership badge/warfare device for this evening. Go ahead and give yourself a round of applause.
Now there is a vicious rumor, a vicious rumor, that if you present this device at the bar …. that ADM Bowman will pick up your tab-sir can you confirm? No.
How can I take the bold step of designating you all submariners for the night-that is not something I do lightly-it takes great confidence. I have that confidence. As diverse as we are, we are bound by common experiences and principles. We are dedicated, hardworking, and your contribution to our nation is duly recognized. Even though our AOR is here inside the beltway, we have a lot in common with the fleet:
For instance, anybody who has ridden the blue or yellow line during rush hour. The doors open and you take that running start and dive into the mosh pit-can barely move, in that tube that is going to truck around underground, sweat, smells, heavy breathing, an announcing system constantly in the background you know it’s there but can’t understand a word-that’s like department training in the crew’s mess. So we share that.
And the other day I walked in on a sea story in our building where a young officer was talking about trailing a diesel-saw them shifting back and forth from the battery to engines, speeding up, slowing, zigging-he was staying right on them. I asked how long where you in trail? He said, “Hours!” 1 asked was it on WESTPAC or in the Atlantic? “Oh, sorry admiral, you came in late I was just telling about how I got stuck behind a VW hybrid on the way home last night to Woodbridge.” I kid you not, some days driving home from work, it feels just like a watch during patrol. Or as long as the director’s cut of Das Boot. So we share that.
We share other things too. Our proud history-fonned by outstanding people. Submariners enjoy a legacy of excellence and sacrifice that dates to 1900. Just for some perspective, that’s three years before the Wright brothers 1st flight in Kitty Hawk in 1903 and eight years before Henry Ford’s model T began production in 1908.
Our submarine history was made carved out by bold individuals. Our first generation: pioneers like John P. Holland-whose imagination and hard work led to the purchase of the Navy’s first submarine in 1900, and we advanced our technology so fast-she was obsolete by 1910, and sold for scrap in 1913.
Our second generation: the Submarine Forces’ World War II heroes-Charles Lockwood, Dick O’Kane, “Mush” Morton, Slade Cutter, George Street, Gene Fluckey, John Cromwell and many more-they altered the course of our country and finally established submarines as a powerful lever of our national security. And you all know that with less than 2% of the U.S. naval personnel, our WWII submariners accounted for 55% of all enemy ships sunk.
Our Third generation: our Cold War heroes-Dennis Wilkin-son, the first CO of NAUTILUS, James Osborne, the first CO of USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, Ned Beach, who sailed around the world on TRITON, “Whitey” Mack, Yogi Kaufman, Rocky English, Roger Bacon, Bruce DeMars, John Grossenbacher, Archie Clemins, Kin McKee, Gus Gustavson,-their legendary patrols and poise forever changed the world and our role in strategic nuclear defense and tipped the scales in the Cold War.
Our fourth generation is here in this room-pioneers forging new ways of operating in a new, uncertain and very challenging environment-and it’s been a busy year. Our Strategic Submarine Forces was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation in July, presented on the 52″d anniversary of the Navy’s first submerged ballistic missile launch, made by USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598) in 1960.
Cmdr. Brian Sittlow, Commanding Officer of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS BOISE (SSN 764) received the Stockdale leadership award. And Captain Jerry Miranda, who won the Stockdale award last year is here with us tonight.
The first qualified female submarine officers received dolphins in December. LTJG Marquette Leveque, of Fort Collins, Colo., assigned WYOMING (SSBN 742). LTJG Amber Cowan and LTJG Jennifer Noonan of MAINE (SSBN 741).
We were deployed, and on station. In 2012, the Submarine Forces deployed over twenty of our SSNs, our SSGNs, and as always, our SSBNs on vigilant patrol-100% of the time since that first patrol.
We made history with our allies and partners: RIMPAC-largest and most robust to date. Three U.S. submarines along with allies, HMAS F ARNCOMB (SSG 74) from Australia, HMCS VICTORIA (SSK 876) from Canada, ROKs NAE DYONG (SS 069) from South Korea.
We put our people in the best submarines in the world-armed with amazing technology from a world-premiere industrial base. Again, it’s been very busy this past year. USS MISSISSIPPI (SSN 782) was commissioned as the ninth ship of the Virginia-class in Pascagoula a full year ahead of schedule-and even more amazing she was combat ready-surge ready-one month after delivery. USS MINNESOTA (SSN 783) was christened in October and we will take her on sea trials in just a few weeks and commission her later this year. Ohio-Replacement Class R&D contract was awarded, and RADM Dave Johnson’s team is working hard to deliver this credible deterrent to the fleet in 2031-at the lowest possible cost while meeting all requirements.
We currently have six Virginia-class submarines under construction with two more starting this year. North Dakota (SSN 784) pressure hull is complete and in total she is about 80% complete. I had the privilege of attending the keel laying for PCU JOHN WARNER (SSN 785). That was an amazing experience and she is over 60% complete. PCU SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790) and PCU DELAWARE (SSN 791) will begin construction later this year.
We are bound by a strong common culture-our principles. Responsibility, technical competence and credibility, ownership, boldness and accountability. Finally, I would add our sense of humor. No matter how tough it gets, and it does get tough, we can lighten the mood.
Now it is not by any means human nature to put to sea in a steel boat of several thousand tons, loaded with weapons and other sources of tremendous potential energy, submerge that boat, propel it for months continuously around the globe, possibly release our weapons to destroy an enemy, and return home safely. And throughout to focus not on our successes, but to focus on our problems and fix them.
And we will always be asked, particularly in the next decade “do you really need to … make it that reliable? … be that quiet? … test it that much? … train that hard? … build that many? … go to sea that far forward? On the 501h anniversary of the loss of the USS THRESHER-129 souls on eternal patrol-reminds us that we must answer those questions with: “yes, and yes, and yes, and yes, and yes, and yes.”
So I feel like I’m on solid ground tonight calling us all submariners. I’m confident in our people-talented, dedicated, and motivated. I’m confident in our ships-which so many of us have a stake in building and operating. I’m confident in our principles, our culture, and shared experiences-they bind us together.
You make the U.S. Submarine Force the most powerful maritime force ever to sail on or under the ocean. Our boats are on constant patrol forward around the world-where the action happens-a constant comfort to our friends and allies, and a nagging nightmare to our enemies. So that if you oppose the United States and what we stand for in the world, your worst day is when you are designated as a target of the U.S. Submarine Force.
So let’s wrap it up here. I cleared this last part theologically with Chaplain Tidd, so this is real… this really happened. A submariner, a Chaplain and Paul Harvey go into a bar, and they’re discussing the finer points of the Dead Sea scrolls… And the conversation went something like this …
And on the sixth day God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And we all know on the seventh day God rested. But on the eight day, God looked down on the world and noted something missing.
God said he needed people smart enough to know a lot, but wise enough to realize they don’t know it all. Somebody who can startup, shutdown, dive, rise, blow, shift, clean, inspect, fix, mend, lap, groom, critique and be better the next time.
He needed people of humility and integrity, strong enough to mess up, fess up, get up, move on, and then share their faults with their shipmates across the pier to make that boat better.
He needed people who could stand a tough mid-watch, come to breakfast hungry but wait for the skipper to finish talking to a new sailor about where he grew up, his family, and how things are going on his first underway.
God needed somebody with a strong family with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, with a spouse who can cry, sigh and then smile as the boat pulls away from the pier again. Who can condense months of life into a 45 word family gram. And who pump their fists in the air with joy when their sons and daughters say-Mom and Dad, I want to grow up and do what you do. So God made the submariner.
Fellow submariners-enjoy the night, be safe. God bless those on patrol, our Submarine Force, our Navy and our nation. Thank you very much.