USS Jimmy Carter Has a Special Passenger; the Former President, Who Served on a Sub, Is aboard for a Dive

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

KINGS BAY NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE -- The only U.S. president to serve on a submarine returned Friday from an overnight dive on his namesake, the USS Jimmy Carter.

Flanked by two sea tugs, former President Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter rode on the sail of the Navy's newest and last Seawolf-class submarine as the boat pulled into port at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.

The 39th president walked from the gangplank onto the pier wearing a yellow windbreaker and USS Jimmy Carter cap. He was greeted by a throng of friends and Navy officials, as well as a few family members.

After shaking many hands, the former president was introduced to the waiting crowd by Vice Adm. Charles Munn, commander of Naval Submarine Forces.

"What amazes me is his knowledge and competency of submarine skills," Munn said.

Carter, 81, a former governor of Georgia, told the audience that nuclear submarines are still pretty much the same as when he served on one more than 50 years ago. Carter was in the Navy from 1946 to 1953.

One change, he noted, is that submarines are larger.

"Submarines haven't changed that much since 1948," he said. "This ship does have a little extra room. Other than that, the living conditions are the same."

Carter said the new submarine, which is scheduled to leave in November for its new home port at Kitsap Naval Submarine Base in Washington, will offer a role in national security that will be "uniquely beneficial to the United States of America and the free world."

The Nobel Peace Prize winner said he saw no conflict in having a weapon of war named after him.

"The primary purpose is not to fight but to be so capable of destruction it will be a deterrent," Carter said.

The Navy's nuclear missile submarine fleet is the "main reason World War III never happened," he said. "One submarine had the ability to destroy every city in the Soviet Union with more than 100,000 people."

Carter said he played no key role as president to get Kings Bay chosen in 1978 from among five sites as the Navy's newest submarine base. …