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New Trident sub heading to Kitsap

The Subase Bangor-bound submarine USS Nebraska is maneuvered by a civilian tugboat at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Ga. - U.S. Navy photo
The Subase Bangor-bound submarine USS Nebraska is maneuvered by a civilian tugboat at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Ga.
— image credit: U.S. Navy photo

The Navy confirmed last week the Trident sub USS Nebraska will move to Subase Bangor in October 2004. The boat is currently homeported at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.

The move is expected to bring about 500 new residents to Kitsap County, in addition to an $18 million annual payroll, said Lt. Barbara Mertz, a spokesperson for Submarine Group 9, at Subase Bangor.

Subase Kings Bay is the East Coast’s equivalent of Subase Bangor.

The Navy currently has 14 Trident submarines and the move will mean each coast has seven submarines each.

The submarine has two crews, a blue crew and a gold crew, for a combined total of about 330. In addition to the crew members, there are an estimated 200 family members who also will make the 3,000-mile move next year.

“Kings Bay will work closely with Nebraska’s crews and family members, as well as NSB Bangor to ensure a smooth as possible move to the West Coast,” said Capt. John Cohoon Jr., commanding officer of Subase Kings Bay.

Mertz also said the Navy will do whatever is necessary to make the transition easier for the crew members and families.

When crew members and families undergo a Navy move, the Navy hires movers to pack the families’ belongings and reimburse them for some moving-related expenses, Mertz said.

Those families who want to live in Navy housing, either on the Subase Bangor or in Bremerton’s Jackson Park, should be easily accommodated, Mertz said. Currently there is a waiting list of one to six months for Navy housing. Families can get on the waiting list as soon as the service members get their official orders.

The move is a response to a 1994 Defense Department recommendation that the Trident submarine force be scaled back from 18 to 14. Trident boats carry the D-5 missile to meet the requirements of the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty.

The four remaining submarines are available for conversion to nuclear-powered guided missile submarines, or SSGNs. The conversions would allow the submarines to launch conventional land-attack weapons, such as the Tomahawk missile. The four submarines being converted are USS Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and Georgia.

“This decision has been looming on the horizon for some time,” said Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston. “ ... There has always been talk about equalizing the Atlantic and Pacific fleets at seven SSBNs each. With the many potential threats in the Pacific theater — from North Korea around to the Persian Gulf — a strong Navy presence in this area is in our national interest.”

George Behan, a spokesman for 6th District Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair), agreed the realignment plans are necessary to assess threats in the Pacific.

He added that there is a “level of anxiety” in communities surrounding military bases because a new round of base closures is looming on the horizon, but that Trident bases should not be concerned.

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