During a visit to the East Coast homeport for six Ohio-class fleet ballistic-missile and two guided-missile submarines July 9, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with 14 female submariners, toured the ballistic-missile submarine USS Tennessee, and took questions at an event with 180 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
The secretary’s stop here was the on first day of a two-day trip that includes visits today to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, home to the Air Force’s first full squadron of F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft, and a stop at Fort Rucker, Alabama, the home of Army aviation.
Hagel is traveling to these southeastern U.S. bases to ensure the department stays focused on long-term concerns affecting American interests and allies in Asia, Europe and worldwide, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said earlier this week in announcing the trip.
The submarine base is home to Submarine Group 10, Submarine Squadrons 16 and 20, the Trident Training Facility, the Trident Refit Facility, the Strategic Weapons Facility-Atlantic, and other support-providing commands. More than 8,000 personnel work at the base, including nearly 5,000 active-duty Navy personnel, 2,322 civilian employees and 1,298 contractors.
At the Kings Bay troop event, Hagel greeted an auditorium full of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard service members, bringing them greetings from President Barack Obama and everyone at the Defense Department.
Hagel has made it one of his highest priorities to ensure the United States maintains a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. This includes commitments to modernizing the nuclear enterprise infrastructure and maintaining a highly capable, skilled and motivated force.
Press Release, July 10, 2014; Image: US Navy