Thursday, August 20, 2009

Unusual Public Relations History

Quick, name a commissioned SSBN. No, not one on which you, your father, son, brother, friend or an uncle served.

Ever heard of the USS Rhode Island? Not sure? Someone wants us to think of the Rhode Island. Why recall a boomer named for our smallest state rather than the only boomer not named for a state, the USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730)?

Actually, SSBN-730 was to be named USS Rhode Island when the contract to build her was awarded to Electric Boat and her keel was laid down in 1981. When Sen. Jackson died in 1983, however, SSBN-730 was renamed USS Henry M. Jackson.

In recent years only SSGNs have warranted much publicity, usually connected with conversion from ballistic missile platforms to awesome weapons for unconventional warfare.

If little publicity is currently afforded SSNs, SSBNs have been afforded minimal publicity for reasons that should be obvious to almost anyone. Yet, the Rhode Island continues to "pop up" with uncanny frequency in circumstances guaranteed to attract attention --- in other words, by design. Examples:

6 March, 2005 - 2 October 2007 - Highly respected blog "Hundreds of Fathoms" active.


8 May 2007 - The Rhode Island was named the official ballistic missile submarine of The Colbert Report. [1]


1 July 2009 - USS RHODE ISLAND (SSBN-740) Poster by JJ_Graphics (see ____ above)


11 August 2009 - The Rhode Island rescued 5 Bahamian fishermen whose boat had capsized four days earlier. The sub's medical staff tended to the four men and one boy before transferring them to a ship which took them to shore for further treatment.[2]
We can only speculate about why such unusual attention has been attracted to one particular submarine.
M.E. predicts that this submarine is destined to make the news again in what promises to be story of momentous gravity for the U.S. submarine service. An experiment involving a second gender, perhaps?
Submarines are always silent and strange.



At 21 August, 2009 10:07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I served on the USS Rhode Island SSBN-740G from 03/96 to 01/00. My tour onboard her was very rewarding in many ways, but one of my most difficult in others.

At 24 August, 2009 22:53, Blogger Bryan Lethcoe said...

Rhode Island plankowner here (11/92 to 11/95) - she is a special boat - held the surfaced speed record on the transit to Newport for commissioning (which happened to be the first time she went to sea without me, since the Blue crew took her up from Groton)


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