The four boats were refitted to
launch Tomahawk cruise missiles
and can carry a full crew of 160
sailors and officers and 66 SEALs.
Rear Adm. William H. Hilarides,
program executive officer, Submarines, said the conversion program
“could not have been possible without the team composed of Puget
Sound Naval Shipyard, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Electric Boat and all of
the government folks who were involved in this, as well as the crews of
these four [boats]. Where there
could’ve been tension and delay,
there was only synergy, purpose and
a desire and a need to get the job
The Return to Service Ceremony,
according to Vice Adm. John J.
Donnelly, commander, Submarine
Forces, “brings focus to my three
top priorities … operational excellence, professional development and
modernizing our submarine fleet.”
Turning to address Capt. Brian
McIlvaine, Georgia’s new commanding officer, on the dais, Donnelly
said, “In your hands, are placed the
ultimate responsibility, authority
and accountability. There is no position in our Navy that requires more
trust or deserves more respect. I
expect a great deal of you and your
team. Lead them well.”
Perdue recalled his embark
aboard USS Florida, saying it gave
him a greater understanding of
“how important this transformation was for our naval fleet and our
McIlvaine presented the governor with the National Insignia that
flew over the submarine during the
Rear Adm. Timothy M. Giar-dina, commander of Submarine
Group Trident, conducted the ceremony to set the watch. He then
invited McNeill to “give the order to
“Today, this community, as well
as the entire state, is filled with
An illustration by Camden County
High School sophomore Nicole Wasson was selected as the “Captain’s
Choice” from entries received from a
statewide art project that had the
theme “Bringing the USS Georgia
Home: Celebrating Georgia’s Ambassadors for Peace.”
tremendous pride and anticipation,”
McNeill said. “I know I speak for
everyone on the committee when I
say it has been one of the more
rewarding events we’ve ever done in
our lives. So, with that, I will say,
officers and crew of the USS Georgia,
man Georgia and bring her to life.”
A chorus of “Aye, aye, ma’am”
rose from behind the crowd as the
crew and officers ran to man their
“We intend to make Georgia the
most capable warship with the
finest crew of any ship in our
fleet,” McIlvaine said.
Lt. Cmdr. Noel J. Gonzalez,
Georgia’s executive officer, served as master of ceremonies. Also on the dais
were Capt. Mike Brown, commanding officer (Blue Crew); Command
Master Chief (Submarines) Brett A.
Prince, chief of the boat; and Lt.
Cmdr. Timothy Hall, who offered
the benediction and invocation.
Festivities leading up to the
Return to Service Ceremony began
with tours of the sub March 25-27.
The Georgia state flag finished its
nearly three-month state tour March
27, when it arrived in Camden
USS GEORGIA RETURN TO SERVICE COMMITTEE
An illustration of Uga, the University
of Georgia’s mascot, atop USS
Georgia was the official illustration
for the return to service events. Cartoonist Jack Davis, a University of
Georgia alumnus, provided the illustration and his signed and numbered
prints were presented to dignitaries.
County — its 159th stop — for the
Georgia Flag Project Ceremony at
the USS George Bancroft Sail Exhibit.
During the ceremony, Naval
Submarine Base Kings Bay Naval Sea
Cadets presented McIlvaine with the
flag. The fathers of two cadets participating in the ceremony have USS
Georgia ties. Leigh Nelson, father of
Seaman C.J. Nelson, served aboard
the boat before the conversion.
Chief Electronics Technician Mark
S. Nicholas, father of Cadet Steven
T. Nicholas, is a member of Georgia’s
Beginning its journey Dec. 11, the
flag traveled to every Georgia county,
visiting two to four counties a day.
Giles, Navy League national director
and the Atlanta Metropolitan
Council’s vice president for Legislative Affairs, spearheaded that effort.
The Georgia Association Regional
Development Centers’ executive
directors and their staffs provided
transportation for the flag and helped
schedule ceremonial events.
The Camden County Board of
Commissioners, City of Woodbine
Mayor Burford Clark, City of
Kingsland Mayor Kenneth Smith,