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GROTON, Conn. (Nov. 25, 2013) The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Dallas (SSN 700) returns to homeport at Groton, Conn., following its final scheduled deployment after more than 30 years in service. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Nov. 25, 2013) The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Dallas (SSN 700) returns to homeport at Groton, Conn., following its final scheduled deployment after more than 30 years in service. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Connecticut’s Submarine Century

By Vice Adm. Joseph E. Tofalo
Commander, Submarine Forces

This weekend we reached an important milestone in United States submarine history – the centennial of the first submarines to be assigned homeport in Groton and the beginning of what would become Naval Submarine Base New London and the Naval Submarine School. Groton, known to many as “The Submarine Capital of the World,” holds a special place in the heart of U.S. submariners, as it is the professional birthplace of our submarine officers and most of the submarine crews.

GROTON, Conn.  (Oct. 16, 2015) The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) returns from a regularly scheduled underway period, Oct. 16.  En route to Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE), the submarine embarked federal, state and local officials to kick off "Connecticut's Submarine Century," a yearlong celebration to commemorate the arrival of the first submarine to SUBASE. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bill Larned)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 16, 2015) The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) returns from a regularly scheduled underway period, Oct. 16. En route to Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE), the submarine embarked federal, state and local officials to kick off “Connecticut’s Submarine Century,” a yearlong celebration to commemorate the arrival of the first submarine to SUBASE. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bill Larned)

 

For years, Naval Submarine Base New London maintained its status as the first and only submarine base in the United States, and today about one-quarter of our sub fleet still call it “home.” It’s also where nearly one-third of all U.S. submarines were built, starting with USS Holland VI in 1900. Furthermore, since the dawn of nuclear-powered submarines with the building of USS Nautilus in 1954, half of our nuclear powered submarines were built in Groton. Now home to the Undersea Warfighting Development Center, Submarine Squadron Four, Submarine Development Squadron Twelve, 19 of the world’s best submarines, and several supporting commands, Connecticut’s support of the Navy is as strong as ever.

Yesterday [Oct. 18], in particular, is of historic importance. The U.S. Navy received 86 acres of land along the eastern shore of the Thames River in 1868 but it was not until 1915 that the installation, then a Navy Yard, became home to the Submarine Force. On October 18, 1915, 100 years ago this weekend, submarines G-1, G-2 and G-4 arrived at the Navy Yard in Groton under the care of the tender USS Ozark. Just eight months later in June 1916, the Navy Yard changed forever when Commander Yeates Stirling assumed command of the newly designated Submarine Base, the newly established Submarine School and the New London Submarine Flotilla.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy recently designated October 2015 through October 2016 as a year-long observance of “Connecticut’s Submarine Century,” celebrating 100 years of submarine activity in Connecticut. I am proud of our historic ties to Connecticut and the constant support we receive from its residents. Because of that support, our families feel welcomed in their communities, allowing our submariners to focus on the serious nature of their work and maintaining undersea superiority.

Congratulations to Groton and the state for “Connecticut’s Submarine Century!”

Editor’s note: This blog was originially published Oct. 19 on Commander, Submarine Forces’ blog.

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  1. I must comment and congratulate Connecticut for their contribution to the Submarine Service. My husband just celebrated the 50th Birthday of the USS Lewis & Clark SSBN 644 as president of the Lewis & Clark Association, held in Charleston, SC where the L&C was home-ported. He was assigned to the L&C the day after commissioning to replace one of the two men killed the night before. He has always said that he felt a close kinship to those men and wanted to make them proud. He made 17 patrols on that submarine alone, the most of any other man who served on her. We went through the overhaul period in Bremerton Naval Shipyard in Washington, and returned to Charleston for the last few patrols before being sent to another duty station in Hawaii. You could ask every man who served aboard the L&C who attended the 50th Birthday, and you would find that each one was proud of serving their country as a deterrent to war and wouldn’t change jobs for the world. Many of them retired from the Navy, others went on to get higher education, jobs in the shipyard, post office, etc. but continue to to think of themselves as Submariners and proud of it. What a legacy they leave behind, and their prayers for the current Submariners and their families. P.S. Connecticut was too cold in winter, but was so beautiful in fall. Just had to say that….

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