PITI, Guam - Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen formally dedicated Konetzni Hall during a ceremony April 19.
The building, named after Vice Adm. (ret.) Albert Konetzni, has served as the CSS-15 and Naval Submarine Training Center Pacific Detachment Guam headquarters building since 2013 although it was never formally named.
A career nuclear submariner, Konetzni successfully commanded at all levels including a stint as Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) from 1998 until 2001. During this time, he was instrumental in bringing forward deployed submarines to Guam.
“I decided to help solve the problems regarding submarine force levels by establishing a permanent submarine presence in Guam,” said Konetzni. “The SUBPAC staff did an outstanding job in studying, analyzing, and drafting a proposal to establish a squadron of three fast attacks in Guam. The concept was approved and forwarded to Navy senior leadership by U.S. Pacific Fleet in the year 2000, the 100th Anniversary of the Force! The rest is history and the Squadron was stood up in 2002.”
Konetzni challenged the DoD and Congressional bureaucracy to save a squadron of submarines from a scheduled early decommissioning and destruction. His actions saved billions of taxpayer dollars, but also ensured proper maritime defense.
One potential savings was to reduce transit time in the vast Pacific. He initiated the study, planning, and execution of the return of submarines to Guam. The increase in demand for the unique capability attack submarines offer the military and intelligence community was legitimate. Positioning submarines further west saved considerable transit time and kept them ready to respond more quickly to national tasking. The resultant savings translated into an increase in the number of operating days available.
Other remedies to improve efficiency included assignment of mini-AORs (areas of responsibility) so that missions, port visits, and support of tasking could be concentrated within one relatively localized area. Concurrent training during exercises optimized the use of underway time. Another outside-the-box idea was employing ballistic missile submarines to serve in "attack" roles while they were already underway.
"We worked really, really hard to squeeze every drop of efficiency out of the force. But eventually it became like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” said Konetzni. “There was no way we could reconcile having too few attack subs and too many missions. But we did gain some savings from initiatives within our control.”
Learn more about the forward-thinking Pacific submarine leader on the Naval History and Heritage Command's Sextant blog.
Capt. Timothy Poe, Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen acknowledged the rarity of naming a building in honor of a living service member.
“It’s a distinct privilege to name our building after a living pillar in the submarine community,” said Poe. “Vice Adm. Konetzni has laid the foundation upon which forward deployed submarines operate in the Pacific Ocean.”
Poe went on to say that naming a building after Konetzni ensures that the submarine force’s history and future are forever intertwined.
“The most amazing thing about this dedication is that it is the result of many who were young officers when we succeeded in establishing the permanent Squadron and after 20 years they never forgot the many challenges we faced in making Squadron 15 a reality,” said Konetzni “For the rest of my life I will cherish the thought that a small group of dedicated young people helped make this come true!”
CSS-15 is located at Polaris Point, Naval Base Guam in Piti, Guam, and consists of four Los Angeles-class attack submarines. The squadron staff is responsible for providing training, material and personnel readiness support to these commands. Also based out of Naval Base Guam are submarine tenders USS Frank Cable (AS 40) and USS Emory S. Land (AS 39). The submarines and tenders are maintained as part of the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed submarine force and are readily capable of meeting global operational requirements.