POLARIS MISSILE FACILITY, ATLANTIC
29 March 1960 - 05 January 1995
|POMFLANT History Pages|
IN WITH THE NEW: The Army plans to convert POMFLANT into a maintenance and mobility depot for a planned fleet of pre-positioned ships.
The dummy missiles have been taken down. The Marines are gone from the guard shack and the once super secret Polaris Missile Facility, Atlantic better known as POMFLANT is no more.
"For the last 30 years, POMFLANT has labored for peace on earth said Commander Tom Czulewicz as the Polaris Missile Facility, Atlantic slipped into history Thursday.
Czulewicz was the missile facility's last commanding officer. "The employees have done their work with style and character," he said.
POMFLANT's demise was forecast more than two years ago; a ceremonial deactivation occurred last summer. The real deactivation took place early Thursday in front of fewer than 100 people in POMFLANT's old cafeteria.
No admirals or elected officials were seen at the 15-minute ceremony in which Czulewicz relinquished command and declared the facility is now part of a Kings Bay, Ga. based unit (Strategic Weapons Facility, Atlantic (SWFLANT)).
He found comfort in the fact that most of his ex-employees have found jobs.
"Two-and-a-half years ago, we had more than 350 civilians at work," he said. "As of today, we have placed 94 percent of these people in new jobs. I challenge anyone to match that record."
Indeed, POMFLANT had more than 800 military and civilian employees, including contractors, at work assembling, repairing and installing nuclear-tipped missiles on submarines.
The last of the Navy's older missile submarines were deactivated last year. That left POMFLANT with little to do except store rocket motors of the type still used on some of the Navy's Ohio class Trident submarines. Once that mission is over, POMFLANT will have been completely replaced by a U.S. Army mobility base.
"I think we were at least partly responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall," Czulewicz said. During nuclear tests in the early 1960s, a POMFLANT assembled missile was the only U.S. sub-launched missile ever flown in which the atomic warhead was detonated.
Test data remained secret for years but "we wanted the Soviets to know when we launched that missile," he said. And, that it was successful.
Czulewicz then turned the ex-POMFLANT over to Lieutenant Commander Curtis A. Renfro. The unit will have only 17 military members and is not a formal command. Hence, Renfro's title is officer-in-charge.
Afterward, retired POMFLANT employee Tom Dufek of Hanahan, South Carolina insisted that "if ever there was a success story, this is it. We did quality work and never had a (nuclear) accident."
Transition manager L. Mark Fortier said more than half the former POMFLANT employees found government jobs and many of those have remained in the Charleston, South Carolina area.
"We originally looked at the private sector but most people wanted to continue to work for the government;" Fortier said. Meanwhile, other employees did find work in private sector, while another 70 retired.
A number now work at NISE East (formerly the Navy's NAVELEX), the Southern Division, Naval Facilities Engineering Command in North Charleston, South Carolina and the Army Corps of Engineers.
We'll stay on a while to help the 27 people, who haven't found jobs, plus help some of the military find Work in the civilian sector," he added.
Meanwhile, the Army plans to spend $53.4 million over the next four years converting POMFLANT into a maintenance and mobility depot for a planned fleet of pre-positioned ships.
Missiles are long and slender; tanks are short and heavy," an Army spokesman said last year. That means the buildings and equipment that once served missiles must be converted to heavier gear, such as tanks. Floor loadings must be upgraded and equipment replaced.
Engineering studies have already begun, the spokesman said, and construction should start next year. Eventually, the new depot could mean jobs for 600 to 800 people, most of whom would be contractor employees, the Army has said.
|James Eagleson (left) and Rodney Phillips|
haul down the command flag of Polaris
Missile Facility, Atlantic outside the
Engineering Services Building for the last