Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

USS GEORGIA GETS A NEW SKIPPER; It's His Second Ohio-Class Submarine Command

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

USS GEORGIA GETS A NEW SKIPPER; It's His Second Ohio-Class Submarine Command

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

ST. MARYS - Navy Cmdr. Rodney Hutton knows what it's like to build and furnish a house, create a family and never have a first-hand chance to enjoy the results of all his hard work.

After being responsible for a complete overhaul and conversion of the USS Georgia the past three years, Hutton turned control of the Ohio-class submarine over to Capt. Brian McIlvaine at a change of command ceremony Friday at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.

Hutton's mission when he took command of the Georgia three years ago was to take the Trident submarine from its home port in Bangor, Wash., to shipyards in Norfolk, Va.

Once there, his job was to oversee refueling the boat's supply of nuclear fuel and make sure a renovation costing nearly $1 billion was done properly and on schedule. At the same time, he was also responsible for training a crew for a mission never performed by an Ohio-class submarine.

The renovated boat is no longer considered a Trident submarine, even though it looks identical to other Ohio-class submarines at Kings Bay. The renovation included removing the ballistic nuclear missiles and rearming the boat with Tomahawk cruise missiles, replacing nearly all the electronics systems and assigning as many 66 Navy SEALs to the boat to conduct clandestine missions in the ongoing war against terrorism.

In his farewell speech to his crew Friday, Hutton credited them for preparing the boat and themselves for their new mission without any glitches.

"Today, the Georgia is extraordinary," he said. "For three years, my mantra has been 'let's bring the Georgia home.' We've come so far, yet we have so far to go."

Hutton said it is "bittersweet to have built a ship and have to walk away at this point." He predicted McIlvaine will be "extraordinarily pleased" with the new boat and crew. …

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