Bryan County and Pembroke officials hosted a ceremony Monday at the courthouse to welcome a flag that will be presented to Captain Brian A. McIlvaine, (USN) Commanding Officer of the USS Georgia.
County Commissioner Rick Garner welcomed everyone to the ceremony.
"It is indeed an honor and pleasure to recognize the USS Georgia in its ‘Return to Service.’ And, to receive and certify that the Georgia State Flag designated for presentation to the USS Georgia and crew was received on this 24th day of March 2008 in Pembroke, Georgia," Gardner said. "And, that every county and every city in the state of Georgia participated in this special event."
The flag is currently traveling through out all 159 counties in Georgia. Bryan County is stop number 154. According to Alan Burns, the Executive Director of the Georgia Regional Development Center (CGRDC), this is the first time ever that a flag has traveled to every county in the state before being presented to a naval craft. The CGRDC partnered with the Navy League to make this event possible. Together, the Return to Service Committee, CGRDC, Navy League and citizens across the state will make the presentation of the state flag.
"This is a historic event," said Burns. "One that we as a state should be very proud of."
According to Mary Faye Craft with the Navy League, a ceremony to welcome the USS Georgia Return to Service as a Guided Missile Submarine (SSGN), following submarine’s conversion from a Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN), will take place aboard Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay on Friday, March 28. Several thousand people - including national, state and local dignitaries - are expected to be on hand for this unique and memorable ceremony welcoming the USS Georgia and her crew to her new home in Camden County, Georgia.
According to the website www.ussgeorgia.org, the USS Georgia (SSGN 729) is the fourth TRIDENT Class Nuclear Powered Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine and the third ship to bear the name of this state, one of the thirteen original states of the union.
The keel for USS Georgia (SSGN 729) was laid on 7 April 1979 and was presided over by First Lady Rosalyn Carter, wife of President Jimmy Carter, both Georgia natives. Mrs. Carter’s initials can still be seen on the ship’s keel.
On 5 November 1982, USS Georgia was launched by Mrs. Sheila Watkins, wife of Admiral James D. Watkins, Chief of Naval Operations, who served as the Commissioning Officer during USS GEORGIA’s commissioning ceremony held on 11 February 1984 at the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory, New London, Connecticut.
In November 1984, USS Georgia arrived in her home port of Bangor, Washington. In January 1985, she started her first strategic deterrent patrol. USS Georgia was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation for operations from September 1983 to May 1986. She was awarded her second Meritorious Unit Commendation for operations from February to August 1986. USS Georgia was awarded the Commander, Submarine Squadron 17 Battle Efficiency "E" in 2001.
While serving in the Pacific Fleet, USS Georgia conducted 65 strategic deterrent patrols. A key element of our nation’s strategic deterrent forces, she continued the proud tradition established by her predecessors.
In October 2004, USS Georgia was re-designated to SSGN after the successful completion of exercise "Silent Hammer," the SSGN proof-of-concept operation.
In February 2005, USS Georgia entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a scheduled Engineered Refueling Overhaul and conversion to SSGN.
In December 2007, USS Georgia departed Norfolk, Virginia for her new home in Kings Bay, Georgia.