WOODBINE — The former commander of the U.S. Pacific Submarine Fleet is the newest member of the Spaceport Camden steering committee.

Retired Vice Adm. Al Konetzni will advise Camden County officials on ways to attract sailors transitioning from the Navy at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

Camden County Administrator Steve Howard, who is also the spaceport project leader, said Konetzni will be an “invaluable resource” to the team.

“People often forget that we have some of the best trained engineers in the world already stationed here at Kings Bay,” Howard said. “We envision Spaceport Camden providing employment opportunities for transitioning military. Launch providers need a highly skilled workforce and retiring sailors from Kings Bay can fill that need while allowing them to continue to live and work in Camden County.”

Sheila McNeill, former national Navy League president and director of Camden Partnership, said Konetzni will likely do more than recruit the highly trained missile technicians and machinists from Kings Bay.

“There’s going to be a lot of coordination with the Navy and the FAA,” she said.

McNeill said she also expects Konetzni to help in the effort to convince state officials to fund construction of a technical college in Camden County.

“I”m pleased he came back here to retire,” she said. “I think it’s great.”

Konetzni, who was nicknamed “Big Al, the Sailor’s Pal,” created a program that reduced young sailor attrition in the Pacific Submarine Force from 25 percent to 7 percent. The Navy adopted his model, which now has the highest retention rate and the lowest attrition in its history.

“After retiring from Naval Service in 2004 my personal success in the commercial nuclear cleanup industry and high tech submarine repair business was a direct result of hiring Navy veterans,” Konetzni said. “These men and women are technically competent, problem solvers, great leaders, and team players. Camden County will continue to flourish and grow under their tutelage.”

Konetzni was a highly decorated officer during his 38 years in the Navy. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal twice, the Legion of Merit six times, the Meritorious Service Medal three times and the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal for his commitment to Homeland Security.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a more distinguished military career in all of Georgia, if not the entire United States,” Howard said. “We are fortunate to have Admiral Konetzni as a member of our community, but even more privileged that he is willing to serve on the Spaceport Camden Steering Committee.”