Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

2 Navy Crews Enjoy Farewell Fixings; Camden County Bids Goodbye to the the USS Louisiana and Maine with a Cookout

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

2 Navy Crews Enjoy Farewell Fixings; Camden County Bids Goodbye to the the USS Louisiana and Maine with a Cookout

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

KINGS BAY NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE -- When the USS Louisiana arrived in 1998 to the only home port it's ever known, the business community held a barbecue to welcome the crew to Camden County.

Another cookout was held Monday for the crew of the Louisiana, as well as the USS Maine, another Trident submarine at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. This time, however, the mood was not nearly as ebullient.

The business community held a feast to say goodbye to the 650 crew members for the two boats, which are being reassigned to Bangor, Wash.

The Louisiana leaves this month and the Maine will leave in September, Navy officials said.

"We hate to see them leave," said Christine Daniel, president of the Camden-Kings Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. "We've built great relationships with them."

Sailors and their families were treated to hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, coleslaw, beverages and cake that were donated by area merchants or purchased through the Camden-Kings Bay Navy League.

Navy League senior vice president Keith Post said he was sad to see the two boats leave, but realizes the decision was made in the best interests of national security.

"All we can do is give them a good send-off," he said. "We hate to see them go, but the needs of the nation come first."

James Riley, Navy League chapter president, said he and many others will miss crew members and their families.

"It's a sad day for us," Riley said. "These ships were part of the community for many years."

Chief David Russell, radio operator on the Maine, said it was difficult saying goodbye to the many friends he's made since he moved to Camden County several years ago.

Still, much of his adopted family -- fellow crew members on the Maine -- will be his new neighbors when he arrives on the West Coast.

The big change will be learning the new jargon at a different command, in a different ocean, at a new base.

"I'm excited to see how they do business over there," Russell said.

Cmdr. Pete Hanlon, captain of the Louisiana, said this is the second time he's left Kings Bay. …

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