According to a Spalding County press release, the Georgia, an Ohio class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, was the third ship named after the state and was launched in 1982.
The vessel was slated for salvage after the Nuclear Posture Review Committee determined that the Navy had too many submarines. It was then decided that it ought to be retrofitted to carry Tomahawk cruise missiles and special forces teams and the vessel was dispatched to Norfolk, Va., where it was retrofitted over a period of nearly three years.
“Had to gut the whole thing and start over,” Lt. j.g. William Dempsey, the commanding officer of the Griffin United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps and a member of the Navy League, said when he described the process.
The Return to Service Committee, led by Past President of the Navy League of the United States Sheila M. McNeill and with Gov. Sonny Perdue serving as honorary chairman, was at the forefront of successful efforts to have the Georgia stationed at the King’s Bay submarine base near Savannah.
At the request of the McIntosh Trail Regional Development Center, the county scheduled a ceremony to honor the USS Georgia and its crew.
Lanier E. Boatwright, executive director of the McIntosh Trail Regional Development Center, came to the courthouse with a Georgia state flag that will be taken to every county in the state before Perdue presents it - along with a logbook with entries signed by every chairman of every county commission in the state - to the captain of the Georgia on March 28 when the vessel officially returns to service.
After Boatwright spoke, Dempsey described the ship’s construction and its service in the Pacific Fleet before describing the specifics of the refurbished submarine.
He said that upon completion of its conversion, the submarine will carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, slightly less than the number fired during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. According to a flier describing its capabilities, the vessel is also capable of carrying 66 Navy SEALs and inserting them covertly as well as launching unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
After Dempsey finished speaking, Spalding County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Goss read a proclamation describing the history of the vessel and declaring that Jan. 28, 2008, would become Return to Service of the USS Georgia Day.
“This is really a historic day for Spalding County to be a part of what you’re trying to do,” Goss said.
Dempsey then praised Spalding County for the support he received from the community after his return from Desert Storm.