KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- USS Florida (SSGN 728) was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation Feb. 15 at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.
Presented by Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, commander, Submarine Group 10, the award was given for the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine crew's partnership with U.S., joint and coalition forces supporting all necessary measures to protect Libyan civilians under threat of attack during Operation Odyssey Dawn in 2011.
The Navy Unit Commendation was established Dec. 18, 1944 to award any ship, aircraft, detachment or other unit of the United States Navy or Marine Corps which distinguished itself in action against the enemy with outstanding heroism as seen fit by the Secretary of the Navy. The unit must have performed service of a character comparable to that which would merit the award of a Silver Star Medal to an individual.
"On March 19, 2011, Florida along with four other ships, fired 221 Tomahawks on Libyan targets. the fact that out of the five ships and submarines involved, 45-percent of the Tomahawks fired came from one ship - USS Florida. Forty-five percent came from one ship alone," said Tofalo. "What's even more amazing; this came 15 months after the seaframe left its homeport. To be able to maintain that level of efficiency, material status of the ship over that period of time, operational readiness and personnel training is commendable."
"You're part of an outstanding learning organization; the United States Submarine Force. It didn't take us long to figure out how to destruct. It started out in Desert Storm where the submarine force launched five-percent of the Tomahawks. In Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, that number went up to thirty-three percent as a submarine force. Ten years later, we as a submarine force are now over fifty percent of the Tomahawks fired. Clearly you're part of an outstanding learning organization that is capable of adapting and overcoming any situation. That has held up extremely well throughout the history of the submarine force and that should be something you as submariners should be very proud of," Tofalo said.
"It's a great honor to accept this award on behalf of Capt. Tom Calabreese (the commanding officer at the time of the operation) and the crew of Florida Gold," said Capt. David Kirk, commanding officer, USS Florida (SSGN 728) (Gold). The name on the award bears the name of the ship. As we all know, a ship is nothing more than a metal structure. It's the crew is the heart of the ship, and the boat is nothing without the crew. It's ordinary Americans from all over the map who come together to form a phenomenal team that allows the ship to complete the mission."
In early 2011, Florida was ordered to deploy in theater and remain submerged and undetected until further notice in support of U.N. Security Council resolution 1973. As tensions in Libya escalated, the order to use military forces in graduated and sequenced strike operations against the government of Libya was given by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Operation Odyssey Dawn was executed. During the operation, Florida launched more than 90 Tomahawk land attack missiles. The strike marked the first time a guided-missile submarine launched Tomahawks in conflict.
Florida was converted from a trident ballistic-missile submarine in May 2006. The SSGN conversion program produced transformational capability on a time-compressed schedule and with a drastically lower price tag. Instead of designing an entire new platform to perform the same mission capabilities, the conversion program reduced the cost to the Department of Defense by roughly $1 billion per ship.
The sixth U.S. Navy ship named for the 27th state offers a tremendous range of options to operational commanders armed with multiple land attack missiles, special operating forces and torpedoes.
For more news from Commander, Submarine Group 10, visit www.navy.mil/local/csg10/.