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Navy to take back escort duty for Groton subs

Jul. 12, 2013 - 04:36PM   |  
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NEW LONDON, CONN. — The U.S. Navy is taking back responsibility for escorting its submarines along the Thames River to and from its base in Groton.

U.S. Coast Guard boats have protected attack submarines on the river since September 2001, when the maritime service offered to lighten the load for the Navy as it prepared for the war in Afghanistan.

The Navy’s Coastal Riverine Force will take over that duty starting this fall, New London’s The Day newspaper reported. The two services began discussions on the shift five years ago to free up Coast Guard ships and personnel for other missions.

A Coastal Riverine squadron based in Newport, R.I., has a platoon based in Groton. Sailors using four boats will protect the submarines, said Lt. Cmdr. Charity Hardison, spokeswoman for the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, which oversees the Coastal Riverine Force.

Navy officials said they also are looking into using their forces to protect submarine transits in Norfolk, Va.; Bremerton and Bangor, Wash.; Mayport and Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Kings Bay, Ga.; and San Diego.

Lt. Cmdr. Brian Badura, a spokesman for U.S. Fleet Forces Command, told the newspaper the threat to submarines from terrorists and saboteurs has not diminished.

“We want to make sure when they’re coming in or out of port, we give them the escort they need,” he said.

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