Sub Base CO Wants 'Two-Way Street'
By: Lee Howard
August 30, 2009
Groton - Capt. Marc W. Denno, the new commanding officer of the Naval Submarine Base, said Friday he hopes to involve sailors in local projects as well as open military facilities to the community.
Speaking at a luncheon meeting of the Groton Council of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, Denno noted that the base currently has an Olympic-size pool that could be opened to the community as well as an approved Olympic-quality rifle and pistol range that should be ready for use in 2011.
“I would love to get a youth team started,” he said, noting that his son is a nationally ranked marksman and he swam in both high school and college.
In addition, an indoor sports complex is expected to be completed by 2013, and Denno is hoping to push through a hockey facility - though he said so far he has not had much success.
“My goal is to develop a two-way street,” he said. “I want sailors to get out and get involved. ... Growing up in the military has given me 43 years of experience with military bases and their communities. One thing is for sure - the best bases had the best community support with strong ties and partnerships.”
Denno painted himself as, first and foremost, a sailor and submariner.
“No D.C. tours, no joint tours, no fancy master's degrees or fellowships - I barely know what PowerPoint is,” he said. “It is important that you know that. It is the perspective I bring to the job and most importantly the source of my passion for the job.”
Ed DeMuzzio, Groton Council chair who graduated from the Coast Guard Academy, reported that Denno had attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis after applying for but failing to get into CGA, perhaps because he had broken his leg the day before he came to campus.
Denno referred to the incident as “my percocet story,” and joked, “The Coast Guard interview went badly, I am told, because I'm not sure I was there for it.”
In any case, Denno has retained the last laugh on his third tour of duty in Groton, the previous stops including a stint as commanding officer of the USS Jimmy Carter. He currently oversees an operation that he said employs 11,000 people and contributes $3.2 billion to the local economy, including contracts and salaries.
Denno said he was proud “to stand before you today as the 49th commanding officer of the largest submarine base in the world,” one that currently is hosting an Italian non-nuclear sub in addition to being the homeport of 15 combat-ready U.S. boats. In fact, he noted that the sub base is now the only fully operational, combat-ready Navy base in New England since the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, is being decommissioned.
In addition, the Groton naval station's recent series of construction projects has turned a facility that twice made proposed base-closing lists into what he said top brass now brand an “enduring base.”
The projects have included $65 million for the construction and planning of new piers, $12 million for a new Waterfront Operations Center and Small Craft Facility due to open this fall and the razing of more than 35 buildings as part of the Navy's Shore Vision 2035 plan to reduce costs associated with outdated facilities.
After ticking off $95 million in improvements, Denno added that a new Submarine Learning Center Headquarters, at a cost of $9.3 million, and the indoor small arms range, at $11 million, are still to come.
”With these investments and ongoing infrastructure improvements, we've done a great job advancing the naval base,” Denno said.