The USS Georgia, an Ohio-class submarine that was launched in November 1982, recently returned home to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, adjacent to St. Marys in Camden County.
“Ohio-class guided missile submarines like the USS Georgia provide the Navy with unprecedented strike (force) and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform,” Navy Capt. Michael Badorf said. “Armed with tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, SSGNs are capable of directly supporting (a) combat commander’s strike and special operation forces requirements.”
Badorf is the USS Georgia’s “Gold” leadership commander. He said there are four Ohio-class guided missile submarines, including the USS Georgia and USS Florida, which are “homeported” in Kings Bay, and the USS Ohio and USS Michigan, which operate out of Bangor, Washington. He said Ohio-class guided missile submarines are called SSGNs while Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines are called SSBN.
According to Submarine Group 10 public-affairs officer Navy Lt. Leslie Hubbell, the USS Georgia returned Sept. 29 with a tug-boat escort into port. She said the USS Georgia has two separate crews and leadership groups that swap out every few months.
“While one crew works on the boat, the other goes through a training cycle to prepare for upcoming deployments,” Hubbell said. “It’s mostly training and maintenance while the crews are back in port.”
According to the U.S. Navy Commander’s Submarine Group 10 website, the USS Georgia originally was built and launched as a SSBN. The vessel earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation for strategic operations from September 1983 to May 1986 and a second commendation for operations from February to August 1986. In 2005, the USS Georgia entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for redesign and conversion to an SSGN. In 2007, it left Virginia for her new home in Kings Bay.
Badorf said the USS Georgia has been deployed for the past 15 months near Diego Garcia, a British island territory in the Indian Ocean. They used their rotating crews to conduct the extended operations from this forward operating base in support of Central and European Commands’ missions in that region, he said.
The submariner’s world is different than most military environments and probably a little more dangerous than other military assignments, Badorf said. He talked about what a typical day aboard a submarine is like and how American submariners stave off boredom by staying focused on their strategic mission.
“Operating a submarine can be very demanding since the ship operates in an unforgiving environment,” he said. “It takes every one of my 150 crew members to operate and fight the ship. This makes for a tight-knit team. It’s this camaraderie and commitment from my sailors that’s kept me part of the sub force for the past 24 years.”
Badorf said a typical day involves participating in several training sessions, exercising the ship in casualty and tactical training drills, observing maintenance practices, conducting routine administration and getting in a physical workout. In all, he said a normal work day for a submariner is about 16 hours.
He had especially high praises for the support his sailors and their family members have from Kings Bay, Kingsland, St. Marys and the surrounding area. He also praised Sheila McNeill, president of the Camden (County) Partnership, for her support for the military community.
“In a few words, (the surrounding community’s support) is exceptional and superb,” Badorf said. “We couldn’t ask for better support from Kings Bay and the surrounding community. My crew is proud to represent Georgia, and we have a great ship’s sponsor and advocate in Mrs. Sheila McNeill. My crew actively participates in several community outreach efforts. It’s a great team here at Kings Bay.”
Hubbell said there are no special height requirements or limitations to be a submariner and that female officers are part of both the Gold and Blue crews. She didn’t have the details about the Blue crew but noted there are 10 Georgia natives on the Gold crew, including the sub’s executive officer, Lt. Cmd. Michael Paisant from Norcross. Other Georgia natives aboard the USS Georgia include:
Jonathan Baggett of Cummings
Jonathan Butler of Blairsville
Heath Gilbert of Macon
Daniel Hoadley of Cummings
Paul Redman of Augusta
Raashad Roy of Atlanta
Alexander Ukonu of Atlanta
Edwin Warner of Douglasville
Sean, Yi of Atlanta