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NAVCENT’s Task Force 54, USS Jacksonville Celebrate 117th Submarine Birthday

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Kinney, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | April 11, 2017

MANAMA, Bahrain -- Usually referred to as the “silent service” of the U.S. Navy, the submariners of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s Task Force (TF) 54, USS Jacksonville (SSN 699) and friends of the submarine community were anything but silent as they celebrated the 117th submarine birthday in Manama, Bahrain, March 31.

“The venue for this birthday ball was spectacular,” said Rear Adm. Richard A. Correll, commander of Submarine Group 7, TF 54 and TF 74.

”The event was held on the top floor of the Radisson in the Diplomatic area of Bahrain. The banquet room provided a stunning view of the bay.”

The ceremony began in hushed tones and somber remembrance for prisoners of war and those missing in action, as well as U.S. submarines that have been lost throughout history. After the tolling of a bell 63 times, one for each boat lost, the ceremony took a lighter turn as Correll gave a spirited account of the creation of the submarine force.

After being reminded of the rich history of the submarine community, five Jacksonville Sailors, three officers and two enlisted, joined the ranks of those past and present who have earned their ‘dolphins’, which is the nickname for their submarine warfare pin.

“No matter how hard earning the pin is, it pays off in the end because you become a part of the crew,” said Fire Control Technician Seaman Colton Andrews, a native of Conyers, Ga. who was pinned as part of the ceremony.
After having their newly earned pins placed onto their chests, the five Sailors joined Correll and Lt. Cmdr. Rustin Dozeman to cut the birthday cake. Dozeman, assigned to U.S. Naval Central Command, earned his warfare pin in 1989, which made him as the most senior submariner who attended the ball.

Following the official ceremony, the dinner room opened up and Sailors settled into their seats with full plates. Surprising the Sailors, Jacksonville families had recorded heartfelt videos which were played on the screen for their Sailors forward deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

“We wanted Jacksonville to be the center of attention,” said Capt. Enrique Panlilio, commodore of TF 54. “It was both a chance for us to show them appreciation for their hard work in successfully accomplishing their missions, and a chance for their loved ones back home to send personal messages. While this ball was small compared to other major fleet concentration areas, we made sure we emphasized our submarine force heritage and had a very enjoyable evening in the process. All in all, it was a great celebration of our submarine ethos and to share a ton of good cheer.”

“This birthday ball was one of the very best I've ever had the privilege of attending,” said Correll. “One of the reasons this ball was particularly special was the participation by USS Jacksonville. Every member of Jacksonville's crew that was not on watch onboard the submarine chose to attend the ball, making this year's birthday ball in Bahrain the largest ever for attendance.”

The event was attended by more than 150 guests.

The submarine force was established April 11, 1900, after the U.S. Navy bought the submersible Holland VI from John Holland. Holland, an Irish immigrant, synthesized an internal combustion engine, battery, ballast tanks, windows, and a three-bladed propeller to build USS Holland (SS 1), the first modern submarine for the Navy.

Jacksonville, homeported out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is named after Jacksonville, the largest and most populous city in Florida, and is the first ship to bear the name. The boat's mission is to seek out and destroy enemy ships and submarines, and to protect U.S. national interests. At 360-feet-long and 6,900 tons, Jacksonville can be armed with sophisticated MK48 advanced capability torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

TF 54 is the submarine force in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, and commands operations of U.S. submarine forces and coordinates theater-wide anti-submarine warfare matters. The mission of the squadron covers all aspects of submarine operations from effective submarine employment to safety and logistics. TF 54 is a task force under U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen