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Submarine flag coming to Newton County
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Previously based in Washington, the U.S.S. Georgia (SSGN 729) has arrived in its new home port at Georgia's King's Bay Naval Sub Support Base near St. Mary's.

The U.S.S. Georgia is the last of four Navy submarines to be converted from a Trident ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) to an SSGN or submersible ship guided missile nuclear.

Because of its recent re-stationing, a committee of Navy personnel and state legislators and chaired by Gov. Sonny Perdue asked directors of the 16 Georgia Regional Development Centers to take a Georgia flag to the chairmen of each of Georgia's 159 county commissions before it will be presented with a log of all the commissioner's signatures and resolutions to the vessel's commanding officer at its re-commissioning ceremony in March.

Jim Dove, executive director of the Northeast GRDC - which includes Newton County and 11 other counties - said he will bring the flag to Newton County Commission Chairman Aaron Varner on Jan. 8.

"It's working its way through the state pretty quickly," Dove said.

He added the flag has already made a tour through the north Georgia mountains and the Rome area, will complete its tour of his district by Jan. 11 and then make its way to metropolitan Atlanta and through the rest of the state.

"The committee asked the RDCs to work on this project because the organization covers each county," Dove said. "Plus, we already have a working relationship with all the county commissions."

Renovations of the four SSBNs - the U.S.S. Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Georgia - originated with recommendations made by the Clinton administration's 1994 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

 The NPR sought to reduce nuclear arms by converting four of the 18 existing Tridents to SSGNs.

Conversion work began on the U.S.S. Ohio in 2002 and was completed in 2005. The U.S.S. Georgia, the last conversion, began its renovation in 2004 and completed it in late 2007.

The converted submarines now carry 154 Tomahawk (strike) missiles and 48 antisubmarine torpedoes, and are designed for covert attacks and special operations warfare.

Dove said the number of crew members serving on the U.S.S. Georgia speaks to the enormous size of the vessel.

"It will have a crew of 15 officers, 139 enlisted personnel and 66 special operation forces," Dove said, "or what you and I know as Navy SEALs."

He added the submarines will be used in the Bush administration's War on Terror campaign.