Although you might not think it (due to lack of ocean coastline), the Navy also has a unit stationed in Oklahoma City and they play a critical role in our nation’s defense. Tinker Air Force base is home to the Navy’s Strategic Communications Wing One. This unit employs more than 1,300 active sailors and provides a plethora of support programs, including maintenance, security and training to the E-6 Mercury fleet. Why is the unit so vital? All communications to America’s submarine fleet go through the E-6 Mercury. In times of a major conflict the E-6 Mercury allows the President and Secretary of Defense to communicate directly with the nation’s nuclear triad of submarines, bombers and missile silos.
Speaking of submarines and the Navy, did you know there was a USS Oklahoma City? First launched in 1985 the USS Oklahoma City is one of 40 Los Angeles-class submarines currently active. Most recently the submarine spent 2007 deployed in the Persian Gulf in support of the War on Terror. The USS Oklahoma City has also been active in stopping illegal drug shipments in the Pacific, seizing more than $1.5 billion in contraband.
Fun fact: there has actually been two USS Oklahoma City ships. The first USS Oklahoma City was a light cruiser that was launched in 1944 and sailed in both World War II and the Vietnam War. In 1971, the Oklahoma City shot the first successful combat surface-to-surface missile shot in US Navy history. The ship accumulated 13 battle stars and was commemorated at the National Museum of the Pacific War.
Tying all this together is the Oklahoma City Navy League. The nonprofit works tirelessly to provide funding to active duty Navy stationed at Tinker and on the USS Oklahoma City. They provide pen pals, recreation opportunities, emergency leave, company visits and award the Sailor of the Year. They also, along with the Chamber, hold one of the nation’s largest Navy Birthday Balls each year.