By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Nelson
Rear Adm. William J. Houston, commander, Submarine Group (SUBGRU) 8, Deputy Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, and Director of Maritime Operations for Naval Forces Europe and Africa, embarked the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 26-27, 2019.
Houston stayed overnight on Florida, which departed Naval Support Activity Souda Bay for a 2-day underway.
“The SSGN is one of our most highly capable assets with diverse mission capabilities,” said Houston. “It is heavily armed with up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, which is almost five times more missiles than any other submarine in the world. An SSGN in the Mediterranean can be available to strike targets in United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), United States Central Command (CENTCOM), and United States European Command (EUCOM) areas of responsibility (AORs) at any time while simultaneously conducting intelligence and Special Force operations. No other submarine can provide as much capability as an SSGN.”
Florida, like other ships of its class, has two crews that rotate out at regular intervals, the “Blue” and “Gold” crews. Houston’s visit served to familiarize members of the U.S. 6th Fleet staff with the ship, as well as provide an opportunity for the ship’s current “Blue” crew and leadership to ask questions.
While aboard, Houston held an all-hands call with the junior enlisted force, senior enlisted force, and officers.
“This crew is coming off of a long period of successful operations in the Mediterranean, so it was a great chance for me to let them know how impressed SUBGRU 8 and Sixth Fleet are with their performance,” said Houston. “It was also a great chance for me to get feedback from the officers and crew about how we can better support them while operating in the Mediterranean. There is going to be an SSGN operating in the Mediterranean for some time, so it’s important that we are prepared to give the boat all of the support it needs – both on and off mission.”
Florida, a 560-foot ship displacing 18,750 tons of water, is conducting operations in the Mediterranean in support of U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command, and U.S. European Command.
The third of four SSGN platforms, Florida is capable of conducting clandestine strike operations, joint special operation forces operations, battle space preparation and information operations, SSGN/SSN consort operations, carrier and expeditionary strike group operations, battle management and experimentation with future submarine payloads.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.