Submarine Squadron SIXTEEN
Submarine Squadron 16 was officially reactivated Aug. 7, 1997. This reactivation is part of a Navywide effort to improve submarine support. For the first time in the history of the SSBN force, a new model for supervising the operation, maintenance and training of the two-crewed submarine force has emerged. The current reorganization places five submarine in each Kings Bay squadron. Submarine Squadron 16 is the immediate superior in command of USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735), USS Kentucky (SSBN 737), USS Nebraska (SSBN 739), USS Maine (SSBN 741), and USS Louisiana (SSBN 743). By reducing the span of control to five submarines and 10 crews, each squadron can dedicate more effort to monitoring and servicing the submarines under its control.
Additional new efficiencies were gained through specialization of the two squadrons. Squadron 20 remains the waterfront coordinator and principal squadron involved in planning and executing SSBN refits with the Trident Refit Facility. Squadron 16 has assumed the role of off-crew training coordinator and principal squadron involved in training and certifying that off-crews are ready to return to their ships. Squadron 16 also has the added benefit of more closely linking off-crew training to at-sea training.
With this division of labor between the two squadrons, all 20 Trident submarine crews maintain the same fine refit work accomplishment they have grown accustomed to receiving, and find a more robust squadron at-sea presence. Additionally, they will experience a more responsive and insightful assist during their off-crew training periods from Squadron 16.
The Squadron 16 commander and his staff are located in the Kings Bay Off-Crew Building, located between the Trident Training Facility and the Submarine Group 10 staff/Subase Administration Building.
Submarine Squadron 16 was established during World War II, and amassed more than 500,000 tons of enemy shipping sunk, earning both the Presidential Unit Citation and six Navy Unit Commendations before being decommissioned after the war. The squadron was formally recommissioned at Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 18, 1963, as the Navy's second Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Submarine Squadron.
The Chief of Naval Operations deployed Submarine Squadron 16 to Rota, Spain, on Jan. 28, 1964, and embarked upon USS Proteus (AS-19). USS Lafayette (SSBN 616) completed its first FBM deterrent patrol with the Polaris missile and commenced the first refit and replenishment at Rota. During the early 1970s, the submarines assigned to Squadron 16 were completing conversion to the Poseidon missile. That transition was completed when USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN 657) returned to Rota on Jan. 14, 1974.
Treaty negotiations between Spain and the United States in 1975 resulted in a planned withdrawal of Squadron 16 from Spain, and the Chief of Naval Operations ordered studies to select a new refit site on the East Coast. The treaty with Spain was ratified by the U.S. Congress in June 1976 and called for the withdrawal of the squadron from Spain by July 1979. Kings Bay, Georgia, was selected as that new refit site, and the site selected was announced by the Secretary of the Navy in November 1976.
Commander, Submarine Squadron 16, embarked in USS Simon Lake (AS-33), arrived at Kings Bay on July 2, 1979, and moored at the original Army wharf, approximately one half mile up-river from what is now Warrior Wharf. Four days later, USS James Monroe (SSBN 622) entered Kings Bay and moored alongside to begin a routine refit in preparation for another deterrent patrol. Kings Bay has been an operating submarine base since that time.
Secretary of the Navy Edward Hidalgo announced in October 1980 that Kings Bay would become the home for the Ohio-class submarines. Concurrent with the preparations to base Trident II submarines in Kings Bay, Squadron 16 moved forward to conversion from Poseidon to Trident I missile capability. The completion of that transition was marked by the deployment of USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN 633) in June 1983.
Upon the completion of construction of Warrior Wharf in July 1979, Squadron 16 moved to that site and provided refit, logistics and training support to Trident I-equipped 627 and 640 class submarines until the last one of these submarines was ready for decommissioning. Gen. Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recognized the silent services on the occasion of the 3,000 FBM patrol, "... as having done more to win the Cold War than any other part of the military." Squadron 16 had been involved in the Cold War effort for more than 30 years when she was decomissioned on June 25, 1994.
When Submarine Squadron 16 was reactivated on Aug. 7, 1997, and assumed command of five Trident II missile submarines, its rich history in providing support to the Navy's front line strategic platforms continued.
Four of Bangor's eight Ohio-class submarines are to be converted to special operations boats, carrying conventional weapons rather than nuclear warheads. In their place, Bangor gets the USS Pennsylvania and the USS Kentucky from the East Coast. In October 2002 the SSBN 735 Pennsylvania became the first new sub sent to Bangor in more than a decade. The USS Ohio, the first of the Trident-packing subs, departed Bangor in early October 2002. It will be followed by the Michigan, Florida and Georgia, reducing the nation's Trident ballistic missile submarine fleet from 18 to 14 under START. After all the shifts are done, Bangor will have six Trident subs, down from eight, while King's Bay, former home of the Pennsylvania, will lose two for a fleet of eight.
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