BANGOR – The Blue and Gold crews of USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730) celebrated the ship’s 30th anniversary Oct. 6 with a ceremony at the Naval Base Kitsap Bangor, becoming the first Ohio-class SSBN to go beyond its originally planned 30-year service life.
The ceremony was hosted by the ship’s crews and Ann Marie Jackson-Laurence, the ship’s sponsor and daughter of the late Sen. Henry M. Jackson, the boat’s namesake. The senator was a Democrat who served 42 years in Congress and ran for president in 1972 and again in 1976. He was born in Everett, Wash., May 31, 1912, and died there Sept. 1, 1983
“Thirty years ago, then Ms. Ann Marie Jackson had the esteemed honor of bringing this warship into service and today she’s here to help us enter an uncharted era in the Ohio-class SSBN fleet,” said Cmdr. Edward Robledo, Henry M. Jackson Gold crew commanding officer. “It is our responsibility to the citizens of this great nation to ensure we maintain USS Henry M. Jackson as the premier strategic asset until its planned inactivation of 2027.”
Other guests in attendance included Jackson’s son-in-law Richard Laurence and grandson Daniel Laurence, city of Everett official Pat McClain and several members of local Navy Leagues.
“I know my father would be very proud of the crews of USS Henry M. Jackson for their expertise, hard work and sacrifice in the defending of our country.” said Jackson-Laurence. “As the ship’s sponsor, thank you for letting me be a symbolic part of this great team.”
When Henry M. Jackson was commissioned Oct. 6, 1984, 30 years of service life is what was anticipated for the ship however, in the 1990, after an exhaustive engineering analysis, Navy leadership extended the total service life to 42 years.
“The Ohio Class submarines of today have proven to be stealthy, flexible and capable of patrolling in vast open ocean areas well beyond the reach of any potential adversary, making them the world’s most effective and credible deterrent force over their entire service life,” said commander of Submarine Group 9 Rear Adm. David M. Kriete. “Though ships like the Henry M. Jackson are getting up there in age, they are still highly effective, well-maintained platforms that can deliver incredible second strike capability from anywhere in the world.
“This is a very important point in our nation’s history as we begin the road to replace the Ohio-class SSBN,” said Kriete. “It’s still in its early stages of design, so it’s only through the skill and engineering of the folks who design and maintain these Ohio-class ships that have allowed our Navy to extend their service lives by 40 percent beyond what it was originally designed for.”
Though Jackson has proven that the Ohio-class SSBN can continue to provide our nation critical strategic deterrence beyond what it was originally designed for, the new class of ballistic missile submarines is on the forefront of the minds of our Navy’s leadership.
“The Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert have acknowledged the Ohio Replacement and an effective sea-based deterrent capability remains the number 1 priority for the Navy,” Kriete said. “The first of at least 12 ships is currently projected to go on patrol in 2031. Until the lines are cast off for that mission, the Sailors and civilians supporting the strategic deterrence mission will keep ships like the USS Henry M. Jackson at the highest state of readiness, quietly lurking in defense of our nation and its allies.”