ST. MARYS — The newest appointee to the Spaceport Camden steering committee doesn’t see any issues with rocket launches conflicting with operations at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.
Retired Vice Adm. Al Konetzni, who served a tour of duty at Kings Bay during his 38-year career, said the Navy already deals with ship movements and rocket launches.
“We’ve seen nuclear powered warships moor at Cape Canaveral for decades with no issues whatsoever,” he said. “Clearly, operational agreements will be made, communications protocols will be necessary, and emergency assistance sharing would assist both entities.”
Any operational and scheduling issues are “easily deconflicted,” he said.
Konetzni’s role on the steering committee is to develop a plan to attract sailors retiring from the Navy and recruit them for jobs in the space industry.
“The public should be reminded that the Naval Nuclear Power Program has been used several times by NASA as a benchmarking tool,” he said. “The highly trained officers and sailors that make up the submarine force is just what the space industry requires.”
Scott Bassett, a public affairs office spokesman at Kings Bay, said the public would be surprised at the number of highly skilled engineers and technicians, both enlisted and officers.
“The young talent we have at Kings Bay is definitely an asset to any community,” he said.
Konetzni said sailors work in a tightly enclosed mass of pipes and wires, containing hazardous gases and liquids under great pressure and high temperatures, while at sea months at a time. They dive to “extremely dangerously deep depths” in a vessel with a mobile nuclear reactor.
“A submariner could transition easily to the space industry and many have over the decades,” he said.
Submariners bring an added value to companies that hire them, Konetzni said.
“I intend to assist the community here in Camden County in any way possible,” he said. “I started out down here in the ‘80’s and over the decades I’ve seen what our Navy folks and government service people have done to grow this county. One way or another this superb growth will continue due their efforts.”