Morale: Mine Is Bigger Than Yours

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July 13, 2008: With most American subs now based in the Pacific, a recent merger of two Washington state naval bases (Bremerton and Bangor) made the new base, (Kitsap) technically, the largest (in terms of subs and submariners) base in the United States. Submariners at the Groton, Connecticut, naval base, don't agree.

The U.S. Navy is in the midst of shifting the bulk of its submarines to the Pacific. By 2010, six Los Angeles class attack submarines (SSNs) will have moved from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Three of the boats will be based in San Diego, one in Kitsap, Washington and one in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This will result in 31 SSNs based in the Pacific, and 21 in the Atlantic. Normally, two SSNs accompany each deployed carrier task force. Otherwise, the SSNs are sent out individually on patrols, or specific missions. SSNs have been used increasingly for intelligence collecting work. The shift of SSNs to the Pacific is in recognition of the greater potential need in the Pacific. That means the growing Chinese fleet, and ongoing problems with North Korea and Iran. Most of the SSBNs (ballistic missile carrying subs) are already in the Pacific.

The new Kitsap base has 13 subs based there, and 3,500 submariners. Groton has 16 subs, but only 2,400 submariners. Kitsap has more people because the ten SSBNs based there each have two crews. But Groton also has the school that gives all submariners their basic training, and the shipyard that builds all U.S. subs is nearby as well.

Groton is the older facility, being a 19th century navy yard that was converted to a submarine base in 1916. The Kitsap base was created in 2004, by combining two World War II era bases. Kitsap has more submariners, and their families, while Groton has more subs, as well as being closer to where submariners are trained, and their boats built. Take your pick, because sailors from both bases will, for some time to come.

 


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