August 18, 2020 – On Aug. 5, the gold crew of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730) completed a feat few other U.S. Navy submarines have accomplished: the 100th strategic deterrent patrol of their submarine.
The crew of Henry M. Jackson deployed earlier this year for their history-making patrol on the 108th anniversary of the birth of the ship’s namesake, Sen. Henry Martin Jackson.
“With the completion of the 100th patrol, these Sailors, honored the traditions of those who went before them by achieving excellence in every aspect of our patrol orders,” said Commanding Officer Cmdr. Matthew T. Freniere, from Fairborn, Ohio. “They have a lot to be proud of with such a successful patrol, and so do their families and friends.”
Few other SSBNs have achieved so many patrols. In 1988, the ninth strategic deterrent patrol of USS Alabama (SSBN 731) was simultaneously recognized as the 100th strategic deterrent patrol by a Trident submarine. In 2017, USS Alaska (SSBN 732) celebrated the completion of their 100 strategic deterrent patrol.
“We are still reliable and credible,” said Freniere. “The fact that Jackson Sailors are able to meet the same number of days underway this year as were expected when the ship was commissioned, is a testament to these Sailors’ superior maintenance skills, ingenuity and grit.”
Leading up to the 100th deployment, Henry M. Jackson’s crew completed all maintenance periods, ensuring the ship deployed on time, and overcame additional health protocols, including a requirement to be tested and sequestered as a mitigation measure to COVID-19.
“Being able to get through all the hurdles and challenges of the training and maintenance periods on time is a challenge on its own, but to have ‘Team Jackson’ execute their mission flawlessly during COVID-19 was an achievement in itself,” said Chief of the Boat Senior Chief Torpedoman’s Mate Brett Michael Olivieri, from Houma, Louisiana. “They demonstrate the ability day in and day out to maintain our operations as if she was commissioned yesterday.”
Henry M. Jackson is unique within the U.S. Navy’s submarine Fleet, including its status as one of only four U.S. Navy ballistic-missile submarines to be converted from using Trident I (C4) missiles to Trident II (D5) missiles. In late 2016, Henry M. Jackson also became the first SSBN to undergo a 32-year extended refit period, ensuring the life-extension of the ship.
“Taking care of a ship through its 100th patrol, breeds its own sense of pride and accomplishment,” said Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Garret L. Hargis, from Raleigh, North Carolina. “Our ability to overcome obstacles raises our standards, as we keep up with the Navy’s requirements and keep this boat sparkling, all while preserving operational capabilities in order to perform the objectives intended. It makes us a force to be reckoned with.”
Since the 1960s, strategic deterrence has been the SSBN’s sole mission, providing the United States with its most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability. Each SSBN has two crews, blue and gold, which alternate the manning and deploying of the submarine. This maximizes the SSBN’s strategic availability and allows for proper crew training, readiness, and morale.
“All the work we have accomplished up to this point has gotten us here,” said Electronics Technician (Nuclear) 1st Class Jacob N. Kessler, from Gainesville, Texas, engineering department training assistant. “It is the tireless work of thousands of Sailors that has allowed Henry M. Jackson to make it to where she is today.”
Henry M. Jackson is the only U.S. Navy submarine not named for a state, but instead named for a United States senator, whose advocacy of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force led to the development of the Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN 571), as well as the Ohio-class submarine and Trident ballistic-missile programs.
Originally intended to be named USS Rhode Island, Henry M. Jackson’s keel was laid Jan. 19, 1981. Following Jackson’s death on Sept. 1, 1983, President Ronald Reagan renamed the submarine in Jackson’s honor, and the name Rhode Island was transferred to a later Ohio-class submarine. Henry M. Jackson was sponsored by Jackson’s daughter, Anna Marie Jackson, and launched Oct. 15, 1983, and commissioned Oct. 6, 1984.
“I feel it is special any time someone has an opportunity to be part of history,” said Missile Technician 2nd Class Bret T. Orozco, from Gering, Nebraska. “I also think it goes to show the hard work all of us throughout Henry M. Jackson’s history have dedicated to this important part of national security – [strategic deterrence].”