Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is located in south-east Georgia, Florida, US. Credit: Elaine Rilatt/US Navy on Flickr.
The naval base is spread over 6,475ha of land. Credit: Edibobb on Wikipedia.
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is undergoing renovation to accommodate new Columbia class submarines. Credit: US Navy.

Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is a principal submarine base of the US Navy.

Located near to St Marys in Camden County, Georgia, US, the base is the home port of the US Navy Atlantic Fleet’s Trident nuclear-powered submarines.

The base’s population is more than 15,000. This includes navy personnel, their family members and civilians.

The naval base is undergoing a major renovation in order to accommodate the new Columbia class submarines, which are expected to enter service in 2031. Estimated to cost $840m, the renovation project will be completed by July 2023.

Naval base location and layout

Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is located alongside the Intracoastal Waterway of south-east Georgia, 45 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida, US. The base is spread over 6,475ha of land, 1,618ha of which is protected wetland. The submarines enter the base through a long channel.

Kings Bay base history

The US Army acquired land at Kings Bay in 1954 to build an ocean terminal, which was intended to ship ammunition during national emergencies. The terminal was completed in 1958 and operated until 1978 by Blue Star Shipping Company under a lease agreement. It was transferred to the navy in 1978.

Construction of the submarine base began in 1975. It was the biggest peacetime construction project ever undertaken by the US Navy. The base was set up in July 1978 under developmental status.

Kings Bay was chosen as the preferred East Coast location for the Ohio-class submarines in May 1979. It was operated as Naval Submarine Support Base Kings Bay until March 1982. In April 1982, the base was renamed Naval Submarine Base. USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) was the first Trident submarine to arrive at the base in January 1989.

Naval submarine base operations

Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is the home port to ballistic missile submarines and guided missile submarines of the US Navy Atlantic Fleet. The submarines assigned to the base include USS Maryland (SSBN 738), USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740), USS Tennessee (SSBN 734), USS West Virginia (SSBN 736), USS Wyoming (SSBN 742), USS Alaska (SSBN 732), USS Florida (SSGN 728) and USS Georgia (SSGN 729).

Major functions of the base include the maintenance, overhaul, modernisation and repair of the submarine fleet. The weapons facility provides missiles and weapons system support to the ballistic missile submarine fleet. The Emergency Management Office guides the units during emergency situations.

Naval base garrison facilities

The base has four berths, including Tennessee Reach, North or Upper Turning Basin, South or Lower Turning Basin and Warrior Reach. There are three refit wharves located south of the covered drydock. Each refit wharf has a length of 213m, an alongside depth of 12.8m and a deck height of 2.4m. The Upper Turning Basin and Lower Turning Basin or surrounding lay berths accommodate the submarines during refit.

The T-Pier located south of the refit wharves has a small boat basin, which accommodates tugs. The base also has two explosive-handling wharves and two lay berths. These berths are used for naval surface ships and foreign vessels. Mooring buoys of Upper and Lower Basins have four holding anchorages, which are considered as ideal hurricane berths for base support vessels.

The major tenant commands established at the base are Naval Submarine Support Centre (NSSC), Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic, Submarine Group 10 and Trident Refit Facility (TRIREFFAC).

Naval base technology

The base features the first full-service drive-through US Navy recycling centre. The facility is qualified by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department (MWR). It has a roadside collection area at the entrance.

The facility recycles aluminium beverage cans, metal food containers, newsprint, paper, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles and jars, and scrap metals. The centre recycled 221t of recyclable materials and 511t of scrap metals in FY2008.

Other facilities and services

The Trident Training Facility (TTF) at the base provides technical training to sailors to operate and maintain Trident ballistic missile submarines and guided missile submarines and systems. The 520,000ft² training facility features classrooms, office space and training simulators.

Other base facilities and services include housing for officer and enlisted family units, a commissary, an exchange, a family service centre, a library, a childcare centre, a recreation centre and a health clinic.

Contractors involved

Alberici-Mortenson was awarded a $191.9m contract for the first phase of the overhaul and restoration of the Kings Bay dry dock in March 2020.

The US Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast awarded a $421m contract to Jacobs for providing base operating support services at the base and outlying areas in January 2021.

In February 2021, Cottrell Contracting was awarded a $9.42m contract for maintenance dredging within the base.