Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, located at St. Marys, in Camden County on the south Georgia coast, is the home port for the Atlantic Fleet’s most modern nuclear ballistic submarines, the Trident or Ohio-class subs. It is the only navy base with the capability to support the Trident II missile, the most sophisticated nuclear missile designed to be launched from a submarine. The highly secure facility encompasses approximately 16,000 acres, 4,000 of which are protected wetlands. In 2015 more than 9,000 military and civilian personnel, including contract personnel, made up the installation’s workforce.
The Kings Bay base was commissioned in July 1978. Its original mission was to serve as the forward refurbishment site for Submarine Squadron 16, which was stationed at Rota, Spain. The navy funded a four-year, $125 million construction program, which provided shore facilities that included waterfront operational facilities, industrial and support facilities, and family housing. The construction was the largest peacetime project ever undertaken by the navy.
In May 1980 the base’s mission changed. It was named the Atlantic Fleet home port for the Trident submarines. A massive nine-year construction effort was initiated in 1981. This $1.3 billion project included construction of facilities to support a squadron of Trident submarines; facilities were built for submarine maintenance and repair, crew training, weapons handling and storage, and personnel support.
The base became a naval submarine support base in April 1982. The first Trident submarine, the USS Tennessee, arrived at the base in January 1989. The Tennessee was followed by the USS Pennsylvania, USS West Virginia, USS Kentucky, USS Maryland, USS Nebraska, USS Rhode Island, USS Maine, and USS Wyoming. The USS Louisiana was the last Trident II submarine commissioned in Kings Bay, in September 1997.
Between 2002 and 2005, five of these submarines, the USS Kentucky, USS Louisiana, USS Maine, USS Nebraska, and USS Pennsylvania, were reassigned to the Naval Submarine Base Bangor in Bremerton, Washington, in an effort to balance the navy’s fleet between the two coasts.
In 2006 Kings Bay became the new home port for the USS Florida, a renovated guided-missile submarine. A second renovated guided-missile submarine, the USS Georgia, arrived at the base in December 2007. A return-to-service ceremony for the vessel, the only submarine to reside in the same state for which it is named, was held in March 2008. The following year the Trident submarine USS Alaska arrived at Kings Bay.