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Natsios Young Architects

Updated 16 June, 2002

2 June 2002
Source: Color maps and photos:; black and white photos: TerraServer USGS 31 January 1993

Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay:

From the report Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998, by William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris and Joshua Handler, published in March 1998 by the Natural Resources Defence Council.

Rank: No. 2

Nuclear Warheads: 2000

Kings Bay

GEORGIA ranks 2nd in number of nuclear warheads deployed, a rise from 11th place in 1992, and 12th place in 1985. The Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is the homeport for the Navy’s Atlantic-based Trident II-equipped (Ohio class) ballistic missile submarine force subordinate to the Submarine Forces Atlantic Fleet (SUBLANT). The base is just north of the Florida-Georgia border, about 40 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida.

The W88 and W76 warheads for the ten assigned submarines are nominally “stored” at the base, even though half of those submarines are at sea (or in overhaul) at any one time. The Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic (SWFLANT) is responsible for storage, handling, and maintenance of nuclear weapons at Kings Bay. Because the number of W88 Trident II warheads manufactured was not sufficient to arm all ten of the Trident II capable submarines, W76 Trident I warheads from retired Atlantic fleet Poseidon submarines also arm the force.

The Army began to acquire land at Kings Bay in 1954 on which it planned to build a military ocean terminal which would be used to ship ammunition in event of a national emergency. Construction began in 1956 and was completed two years later at a cost of $11 million. The most prominent feature of the terminal was a 2000 footlong, 87 foot-wide concrete and steel wharf, with three parallel railroad tracks, enabling simultaneous loading of several ammunition ships. A 10 mile-long, 200 foot-wide channel, dredged by the Army to 32 feet provided access between the bay and the ocean via the St. Marys channel. Elsewhere the Army built 47 miles of railroad track. The base was never activated.

In 1975 there were negotiations between the U.S. and Spain over the continued basing of ballistic missile submarines at Rota, Spain. The resulting 1976 treaty called for withdrawal of the Navy squadron by July 1979. Some sixty sites along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts were evaluated as a replacement and by the summer of 1976 the number was reduced to five: Narragansett Bay, RI; Cheatham Annex, VA; Charleston, SC; Mosquito Lagoon, FL; and Kings Bay, GA. Kings Bay was chosen to be the support base for Squadron Sixteen in November 1976, with initial homeporting of the submarines and crews in Charleston, SC. The relocation occured in July 1979 with a submarine tender (USS Canopus, AS-34), a floating dry dock (USS Oak Ridge, ARDM-1), and eight SSBNs. This modest four year effort cost $125 million.

In May 1979 Kings Bay was selected as the permanent east coast Trident homeport, refit site, and training base for Ohio-class SSBNs. This major decade-long effort cost several billion dollars. On March 29, 1990 the Navy declared the USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) operational as it went on its first patrol from Kings Bay, carrying Trident II SLBMs. On September 6, 1997 the 18th and last Ohio-class  submarine (the USS Louisiana) was commissioned, the tenth to be based at Kings Bay.





The six-sided weapons storage area at lower right (white border) is enclosed with the double-fenced security
system seen at other nuclear weapons storage facilties. A feature of the system is that the fence segments are
straight lines, perhaps indicating the fencing is in tension as a vibration sensor of tampering. The straight
runs may also indicate presence of laser or other direct beam sensors. Visual or other biometric surveillance
may be eased by the straight runs as well. Other sensors are likely placed below and on the surface of the
cleared fence land.

Kings Bay WSA Coordinates:

30N 46' 56", 81W 32' 06"

3,405,600.0, 448,800.0