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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Business Journal, Jan. 8) – Guam will welcome the arrival of a fourth submarine in early January, when the USS Ohio (SSGN-726) begins a one-year deployment. Commodore Phillip Sawyer, commander of the U.S. Submarine Squadron 15, did not disclose the date of the submarine’s arrival, saying only that it would be "in the near future."

Journal sources confirmed the Guam Chamber of Commerce will host a reception scheduled for Jan. 18. Although the location is still being finalized, the Journal understands it is likely to be held at Polaris Point.

The USS Ohio has a crew of 17 officers, 15 chief petty officers and 122 enlisted men, and is homeported in Bangor, Wash.

The sub will complement the three other submarines homeported on Guam — USS City of Corpus Christi, USS Houston, and USS Buffalo.

In a speech before the Saipan Chamber of Commerce during the business group’s board of directors installation dinner on Jan. 5, 2008 at Fiesta Resort & Spa, Sawyer indicated that the arrival of USS Ohio is part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s military buildup in the region.

"The submarine force buildup in Guam has already occurred … we recognized the strategic importance of Guam." The USS Ohio will supply "rotational support and should spend a year out here before its return to Washington," he said.

The submarine is the United States’ first Trident-class nuclear-powered submarine, which was commissioned in 1981. In late 2005, it was converted to carry 154 conventional cruise missiles instead of 24 Trident missiles.

Sawyer said the Guam port call will be the USS Ohio’s first operational period since its conversion from a ballistic missile submarine into a tactical strike and special warfare platform.

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