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Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay
Near St. Marys, Georgia in the United States
An aerial view of Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay during April 2001
Kings Bay is located in Georgia
Kings Bay
Kings Bay
Kings Bay is located in the United States
Kings Bay
Kings Bay
Coordinates30°46.9′N 81°32.1′W / 30.7817°N 81.5350°W / 30.7817; -81.5350
TypeNaval base
Area16,000 acres (6,500 hectares)
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defense
OperatorUS Navy
Controlled byNavy Region Southeast
WebsiteOfficial website
Site history
Built1978 (1978)–1989
In use1978 – present
Garrison information
Captain Christopher G. Bohner
GarrisonSubmarine Group 10

Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is a base of the United States Navy located adjacent to the city of St. Marys in Camden County, Georgia, on the East River in southeastern Georgia, and 38 miles (61 km) from Jacksonville, Florida. The Submarine Base is the U.S. Atlantic Fleet's home port for U.S. Navy Fleet ballistic missile nuclear submarines capable of being armed with Trident missile nuclear weapons. This submarine base covers about 16,000 acres (6,500 hectares) of land, of which 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) are protected wetlands.


The early years

Archaeological research has revealed a pre-Columbian era Indian presence throughout the area, dating back thousands of years.

Early in the 19th century, much of what is now the submarine base was the site of several plantations, including Cherry Point, Harmony Hall, New Canaan, Marianna and Kings Bay. Beginning in the 1790s, Thomas King built a plantation along the bay. John Houston McIntosh built a considerably larger plantation known as New Canaan, where he grew cotton and sugar cane.

The plantation system declined following the Civil War, and the land was broken up into smaller holdings. No residents were paid the going rate for the land that was used to build the submarine base.[citation needed] One land owner was paid four thousand dollars for 62 acres of deep water land. Such residents harvested shrimp, fish and other seafood, and trapped and hunted to supplement small-scale farming of corn, sugar and other vegetables.

The Army years

The US Army began to acquire 7,000 acres (28.33 km2; 10.94 sq mi) of land at Kings Bay in 1954 to build a military ocean terminal to ship ammunition in case of a national emergency. Construction began in 1955 and was completed in 1958. A 200-foot-wide channel was dredged to Cumberland Sound, and included two turning basins.[1]

The most prominent feature of the terminal was its 2,000-foot-long (610 m), 87-foot-wide (27 m) concrete-and-steel wharf (600 m × 26 m). It had three parallel railroad tracks, enabling the simultaneous loading of several ammunition ships from rail cars and trucks.

Elsewhere on the base, the Army laid 47 miles (76 km) of railroad tracks. Spurs off the main line ran into temporary storage areas protected by earthen barricades. These mounds of dirt, still prominent features in many areas of the base, were designed to localize damage in case of explosive accidents.

It was soon realized that there was no immediate operational need for the installation, so it was placed in an inactive ready status, and Blue Star Shipping Company signed a lease to use the wharf in 1959.[1]

Although the army post was never activated to serve its primary purpose, it was used twice for other missions. In 1964, as Hurricane Dora hammered the area, nearly 100 area residents were sheltered aboard base. Also, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, an Army Transportation Battalion of 1,100 personnel and 70 small boats took up position at Kings Bay.

The Navy years

The chain of events that led to today's combination of high-tempo submarine operations at Kings Bay and the complex construction project that reshaped the face of thousands of acres of land began in 1975. At that time, treaty negotiations between Spain and the United States were in progress. A proposed change to the United States naval basing agreement with Spain included the withdrawal of the fleet ballistic-missile submarine squadron, Submarine Squadron 16, from its operational base at Rota, Spain, north-west of Gibraltar, giving easy access to Atlantic Ocean patrol areas. Anticipating that this would take place, Chief of Naval Operations James L. Holloway III ordered studies to select a new refit site on the East Coast.

In January 1976, the negotiators initialed a draft treaty between Spain and the United States. It called for withdrawal of the submarine squadron from Rota by July 1979. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in June 1976.

After careful review, Kings Bay was selected in November 1976, shortly after the election of Georgian Jimmy Carter as the President. Soon afterward, the first Navy personnel arrived in the Kings Bay area and started preparations for the orderly transfer of property from the Army to the Navy. Naval Submarine Support Base Kings Bay was established in a developmental status 1 July 1978. The base—now Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, not only occupies the former Army terminal land, but several thousand additional acres.[citation needed]

Preparations for the arrival of the submarine squadron went forward with haste throughout the remainder of 1978 and into 1979. Commander Submarine Squadron 16 greeted the submarine tender Simon Lake, when it arrived at Kings Bay on 2 July 1979. Four days later, USS James Monroe entered Kings Bay and moored alongside Simon Lake's starboard side to begin a routine refit in preparation for another nuclear weapons deterrence patrol. Kings Bay has been an operating submarine base ever since that time.

Display of submarine-launched missiles on board the base, including the Polaris, Poseidon, and Trident.

In May 1979, the U.S. Navy selected Kings Bay as its preferred East Coast site for the new Ohio-class Trident submarines. On 23 October 1980, after a one-year environmental impact study was completed, and with Congressional approval, the Secretary of the Navy announced that Kings Bay would be the future home port for the new Trident-missile submarines in the Atlantic Ocean.

The decision to base the Trident submarines at Kings Bay started the largest peacetime construction program ever undertaken by the U.S. Navy. The program took nine years to complete at a cost of about $1.3 billion. The building project included the construction of three major commands: Trident Training Facility (TTF), Trident Refit Facility (TRF), and Strategic Weapons Facility, Atlantic (SWFLANT).[citation needed]

On 15 January 1989, the first Trident submarine, Tennessee, arrived at Kings Bay. She was followed by Pennsylvania later that same year. West Virginia was commissioned at Kings Bay in October 1990, and she was followed by Kentucky in July 1991; Maryland in June 1992; Nebraska in July 1993; Rhode Island in July 1994; Maine in August 1995, and Wyoming in July 1996. The commissioning of Louisiana in September 1997 gave Kings Bay its maximum number of ten Trident submarines.

The enormous construction and organizational effort put forth by all the commands at Kings Bay reached their first goal in late March 1990, when the Trident II (D-5) missile made its first deterrent patrol on board the USS Tennessee.

Post Cold-War Era

Sail of USS George Bancroft on display at main gate, dedicated 7 April 2000, as part of Kings Bay's celebration of the submarine forces' 100th anniversary.

The end of the Cold War and the reorganization of Naval and Air Force strategic weapons forces during the 1990s had a significant effect on the submarine base at Kings Bay. A high-level nuclear weapons policy review recommended that the U.S. Navy reduce its number of Trident Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines from 18 to 14 by 2005.

The decision was made to temporarily decommission the four oldest Ohio-class Trident missile submarines for extensive shipyard work in order to convert them into guided-missile submarines (SSGNs) carrying large numbers (about 150) of conventionally armed Tomahawk cruise missiles. These converted submarines also have accommodations for significant numbers of Navy SEALs or Marines.

Furthermore, several Trident submarines were transferred from the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific Fleet. USS Pennsylvania departed on 4 August 2003 and USS Kentucky departed on 24 August 2003, bound for the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington, as part of balancing the Trident fleet. In addition, both USS Louisiana and USS Maine were transferred to the Pacific Fleet in 2005.

USS Florida and USS Georgia completed their conversions into guided missile submarines in 2006 and 2008, respectively, and now have their home port at the Kings Bay Submarine Base.

Anti-War Protest

On April 4, 2018, seven anti-war activists were arrested after breaking into the naval base and committing acts of vandalism after recording themselves dumping fake-blood on the ground while holding banners, spray painting anti-war and anti-nuclear slogans on facility walls and destroying equipment.[2] The activists, calling themselves the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, were found guilty of three felonies and one misdemeanor. They are currently awaiting sentencing, where they could face up to 25 years in prison.[3]

Major Commands at Kings Bay

Submarine Group 10

Submarine Group 10 was commissioned January 1, 1989, and is the senior command at Kings Bay. Group 10 is a subordinate command to Commander Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet. It exercises command over various commands and units assigned, including operational and administrative control of the Ohio-class submarines based at Submarine Base Kings Bay.

Group 10 is the local coordinating authority for all matters assigned by the submarine force commander and exercises direct control over the administration and training of submarine offcrews at Kings Bay. Specifically included in these responsibilities are the proper integration and coordination of the facilities dedicated to training support of the Trident system.[4]

USS Maryland (SSBN-738), an Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine berthed at Kings Bay during 2016

Submarine Squadron 16

As of 2009, Submarine Squadron 16 provided administrative support for the East Coast-based Ohio-class SSGN submarines. The squadron coordinates planning and executing all SSGN maintenance with Trident Refit Facility and is responsible for all material readiness and fiscal responsibility. The SSGN fleet relies heavily on this maintenance. In addition Submarine Squadron 16 will provide support for SSBNs during and after major overhaul periods.[5]

Submarine Squadron 20

Submarine Squadron 20 provides the same kind of support services as Submarine Squadron 16, except that it is responsible for the East Coast-based Ohio-class SSBN and the strategic deterrence missions those SSBNs undertake.[5]

Submarine Readiness Squadron

The submarine center provides centralized administrative and support services to the submarine squadron assisting them in their responsibilities for material, personnel, training and logistics of assigned and visiting submarines.[citation needed]

Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic

Flag display at Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic (SWFLANT)

Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic (SWFLANT) provides strategic missiles and strategic weapons system support to the ballistic missile fleet. The command is responsible for assembling the D-5 missile and processing missile guidance and launcher subsystem components.[citation needed]

Marine Corps Security Force Battalion

Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, Kings Bay conducts security operations in Direct Support (DS) of SWFLANT. The battalion is commanded by a senior Marine Corps officer and provides security operations as approved by the Chief of Naval Operations, in coordination with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, As of June 27, 2008, MCSFCO was restructured from a company to a battalion. A similar sister battalion is stationed with the west coast submarine base in Bangor, Washington. In addition to Marine Corps security forces, they are joined by Navy Master-at-Arms and Navy Law Enforcement/Security Officers with the 6490 designator. Both Masters-at-Arms and Navy Law Enforcement/Security Officers are part of the larger U.S. Navy Security Forces.

United States Coast Guard (USCG) Maritime Force Protection Unit

Foredeck of the newly commissioned USCGC Sea Dog, showing all three machine guns.

One of the first Maritime Force Protection Units was established by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) at Kings Bay. The Maritime Force Protection Unit provides escort protection for the submarines as they transit on the surface, to and from their homeports.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] The unit includes some smaller vessels, and two Marine Protector class cutters, the USCGC Sea Dragon and the USCGC Sea Dog. The Sea Dragon and Sea Dog, and two other cutters, the USCGC Sea Devil and USCGC Sea Fox, although crewed by sailors from the Coast Guard, they were ordered, and paid for, by the Navy. For protecting submarines the Navy requested a slightly modified design, which added gyrostabilized machine gun, with advanced optics, which was fired under remote control from the ship's bridge. The gyrostabilized gun's greater long range accuracy made it more appropriate for intercepting speedboats laden with a suicide bomb.

Trident Refit Facility

The USS Tennessee (SSBN-734) enters drydock at Trident Refit Facility in 2021

The Trident Refit Facility (TRF) is the largest tenant command at Kings Bay and has kept a significant portion of the United States Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines at sea since 1985. TRF provides quality industrial-level and logistics support for the incremental overhaul, modernization, and repair of Trident submarines. It also furnishes global submarine supplies and spare parts support. In addition, TRF provides maintenance and support services to other submarines, regional maintenance customers, and other activities as requested.[citation needed]

The Trident Refit Facility possesses the largest covered drydock in the world,[citation needed] measuring 700 feet (210 m) long, 100 feet (30 m) wide, and 67 feet (20 m) deep. A state-of-the-art Magnetic Silencing Facility (MSF) provides degaussing services, including ranging and the removal of permanent magnetism for submarines of the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy, as well as for steel-hulled surface warships. The MSF is the only facility of its kind on the East Coast, and it is also used for research for development of future magnetic systems. The Defensive Ordnance Support Facility maintains and stores all of the torpedoes carried by the Trident missile submarines for self-defense.

Trident Training Facility

Sailors use a simulator for refresher training at Kings Bay's Trident Training Facility (TTF)

The Trident Training Facility (TTF), with over 520,000 square feet (48,000 square metres) of classroom and office space, trains sailors in the skills necessary to operate and maintain the Trident submarine and its systems. TTF has an essential role in support of the Trident submarines and uses equipment trainers (simulators) to simulate, as realistically as possible, the actual equipment on the submarine.[13] Trainers include damage control, fire fighting, ship control, navigation, and most weapons and engineering subsystems.[14]

TTF's mission is to provide basic, advanced, functional, refresher and team training to Trident submarine crew members and submarine support personnel, in order to increase and maintain the knowledge and proficiency in specific skills and to provide specialized training. The United Kingdom's Vanguard-class submarines, through the Polaris Sales Agreement, also uses the Trident missile and their sailors sometimes visit the Kings Bay Naval Base. Additionally, the Colombian Navy trained at TTF because of the lack of high technology trainers in their own country.[15]

Homeported submarines

Artist's concept of an Ohio-class SSGN launching Tomahawk Cruise Missiles.
Guided missile
Ballistic missile


See also


  1. ^ a b Reddick, Marguerite (1976). Camden's Challenge. Camden County Historical Commission. p. 215. ASIN B0006PBII2.
  2. ^ "7 anti-war activists detained after vandalism on Kings Bay sub base". News4Jax. 5 April 2018. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  3. ^ Husseini, Sam (2019-10-31). "Religious Beliefs Are Struck Down as Defense for Nuclear Protest". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  4. ^ "Submarine Group 10". US Navy Website. July 4, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2016 – via Google News.
  5. ^ a b "Navy's Only Combined Submarine Squadron Splits to Enhance Warfighting Readiness" (Press release). Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  6. ^ "Bollinger Shipyards delivers final Marine Protector-class CPB". Industry News. 2009-05-13. We're very sad to see the Sea Fox leave. This contract was supposed to end at 51 vessels, and now we're at 75," said Christopher Bollinger, executive vice president of new construction. "We're excited to see the workmanship continue as we start the next contract for 36 boats.
  7. ^ Ed Friedrich (2008-06-20), Enlisting a Coast Guard Cutter to Protect Navy Subs, Kitsap Sun, archived from the original on 2016-10-02, A second 87-foot cutter, the Sea Fox, is being built and will be added next year.
  8. ^ HMC James T. Flynn, Jr., USNR(ret) (2014-06-23). "U. S. Coast Guard: Small Cutters and Patrol Boats 1915 - 2012" (PDF). US Coast Guard. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-05-10. Retrieved 2018-10-03. The four boats which are stationed at Kitsap, WA and Kings Bay, GA submarine bases have an extra remotely operated 50 cal. m.g.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Kings Bay Now..." (PDF). Periscope magazine. 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  10. ^ "Coast Guard commissions Sea Dragon: Cutter designed to protect submarines coming into or out of Kings Bay" (PDF). Periscope magazine. 2008-01-24. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  11. ^ "Coast Guard to Commission Cutter Sea Dragon". Coast Guard News. 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  12. ^ "Coast Guard Cutter Sea Dog to arrive in Kings Bay". Coast Guard News. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  13. ^ "Trident Training Facility Ship Control Simulator". 3 June 2003. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
  14. ^ "Trident Training Facility Launch Control Simulator". 3 June 2003. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
  15. ^ "Colombian Submariners Benefit from Damage Control Trainers at NSB Kings Bay" (Press release). Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Public Affairs. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 2010-08-05.