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Liberty County salutes incoming submarine
Regan Klibbe sings the national anthem during Liberty County's flag signing day in honor of the homecoming of the USS Georgia, while Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver and Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas look on. - photo by Andrea Washington / Coastal Courier
A Virginia shipyard has been its docking station the last three years, but Georgia's namesake submarine is headed home this week and counties across the state are taking part in a welcome home project.
The USS Georgia has been docked at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard since February 2005 undergoing a refueling and conversion from a ballistic missile submarine to a special operations-capable submarine equipped to carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
With the conversion complete, the 560-ft. vessel is making its way to the Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary's, where it is scheduled to be homeported. A welcome ceremony is set for Friday afternoon.
And when the 159-member crew aboard the USS Georgia reach Georgia shores there will be a Georgia state flag and log book signed by county commissioners in each of the state's 159 counties waiting.
The signed flag and log book are part of an initiative sponsored by Georgia's regional development centers and supported by local governments throughout the state to not only welcome crew members home, but to show appreciation for the vow they have made for the country.
"We're honored to be participating in this event. There can be no greater appreciation given by citizens of this county," Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver said during the Liberty County signing ceremony in Hinesville's Bradwell Park Monday. "We sincerely give our support to the young men and women who defend our country and the commitment that this great submarine will make to the state of Georgia and to our nation. God bless all of our troops."
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas also commended the sacrifice of Navy personnel and said the newly outfitted USS Georgia will "represent a projection of power that (the United States) never had before."
"Having been in special operations, I know that the fact that you have a boat this size that you can put any place in the world and project U.S. power gives us the leverage that we need to fight terrorism anywhere, anytime in the world," Thomas, a retired Army officer, said.
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