Tridents Mark 1,000 Patrols; from Cold War to War on Terrorism, Nuclear Subs Remain a Deterrent

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

ST. MARYS - When the USS Ohio left port on its first three-month patrol Oct. 1, 1982, Navy officials hailed the Trident submarine as an important strategic deterrent to nuclear attack.

The federal government was still in the middle of the Cold War and contracted ship builders to construct 17 more Tridents submarines for the Navy. The last Trident built, the USS Louisiana, was commissioned in 1997.

The Cold War is long over but the patrols have continued and Thursday, the Navy and will commemorate the 1,000th patrol of a Trident submarine in a ceremony at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, where five of the boats are home ported. Nine others are ported in Bangor, Wash.

Donald Winter, secretary of the Navy, and Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of Naval Operations, are among the Department of Defense officials who will attend the event. Elected local, state and federal officials also will attend the invitation-only event.

The rationale for building the Trident submarines is that missile silos in the ground and bombers can be targeted for attack. But Trident submarines on patrol hundreds of feet below the surface of the world's oceans cannot be detected and would survive a nuclear attack.

Their ability to retaliate after a first strike makes them an important deterrent. While the fleet has been cut to 14 boats, Navy officials say Trident submarines remain an important component in national defense, carrying more than 50 percent of the U.S. strategic warheads.

Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman at Kings Bay, said the Navy does not want to identify which submarine will make the 1,000th patrol. Instead, the Navy wants the focus to be on all the Trident submarines.

"This is a commemoration ceremony for that milestone and not a particular ballistic missile submarine," she said. …