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Naval Submarine League President Outlines Future of the Silent Service

Article By: MC1 Leonardo Carrillo

Retired Rear Adm. John Padgett, President of the Naval Submarine League and former Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, presented a special guest lecture, "Future and Way Ahead for the United States Navy Submarine Force," to NPS students, faculty and staff on the NPS campus. The discussion focused on the present state of the silent service, and the changes that could be taking place in the future.

Padgett said that he had seen many changes and improvements since he started at the Naval Academy in the late 60s, and that even with the end of the Cold War, a well-maintained sophisticated submarine force was paramount.

“Stealth matters,” Padgett said starting the lecture, emphasizing the importance of a 'silent' submarine force. “We are a platform that can operate independent, unsupported in waters controlled by the enemy, and that’s a good thing.” He added that the stealth capabilities currently provided by the submarine force would not be challenged in the foreseeable future, but noted that there was still room for improvement and innovation.

As an example, he sighted the essential and effective role the USS Florida (SSGN 728) during Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya. He said that those operations exemplified what a well-tuned submarine force is capable of doing.

Padgett talked about the increasing budgetary constraints that the whole country is undergoing, and the ways that the submarine community has improved its allocation of resources and production methods. He added that innovation and technological breakthroughs would improve the future of the submarine force by creating new procedures and improving old ones.

He praised the work being conducted at NPS, spotlighting the Consortium for Robotics and Unmanned Systems Education and Research (CRUSER) program, and noted that innovation and thinking “outside the box” was key to technological improvements.

“The investment of the intellectual development of our young officers is crucial,” said Padgett. “As technology evolves and becomes more sophisticated, we need to have people who have the depth of intellectual insight to be able to anticipate how new technologies can be applied to the challenges that we’re going to face.”

He added that the way to develop this intellectual depth was by providing I superior education such as the one provided by the many educational programs at NPS.

 
Retired Rear Adm. John Padgett, President of the Naval Submarine League and former Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to Naval Postgraduate School students, faculty and staff during a lecture entitled, "Future and Way Ahead for the United States Navy Submarine Force.”

For NPS students, the presentation offered the opportunity to interact with Padgett and get a better insight on the Admiral’s perspective.

“I learned a lot about where we’re going in the future,” said NPS student and Submariner, Lt. Justin Kirkpatrick. “He was a very engaging speaker and responsive to our questions.”

For Padgett, the interaction with the NPS submarine community was very rewarding. He said that he wanted to inform the community about where it’s headed to redirect their focus, and that the opportunity to do so in such an interactive forum was very gratifying.

Padgett is the Vice President for Business Development and Strategic Planning for General Dynamics Electric Boat. He joined the company in December 2003 following a 34-year career as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. He commanded the attack submarine, USS Omaha (SSN-692), was Commander, Submarine Squadron ELEVEN, and was the 75th Commandant of Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in addition to his role as the leader of the U.S. Pacific Submarine Force.

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