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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Can "Big Al" save the sub base?

From the Record Journal

He's known as Big Al, the Sailor's Pal.

But next week, retired Navy Vice Adm. Al Konetzni just may be Connecticut's best friend.

Konetzni, who began his career as a submariner and retired last year as a highly decorated deputy and chief of staff for the Atlantic Fleet, will give part of the presentation to the base closing commission next week in defense of the submarine base in Groton.

A graduate of the Naval Submarine School who spent nearly 40 years in the Navy, Konetzni has been an outspoken advocate of the need for a larger submarine fleet. And that argument will play a key role in the ultimate decision to shut down the Groton base or keep it open.

While some military brass tend to quietly toe the line, Big Al — who has said he's proud of his nickname — made a name for himself by giving speeches, while still serving in the Navy, that were critical of efforts to scale back funding for shipbuilding, including submarines.


Konetzni met with Connecticut's congressional delegation for the first time last Friday, along with two other consultants from The Washington Group, who also are helping to coordinate the presentation for the hearing July 6 of the independent Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC).

"The Admiral is one of the nation's top experts on submarines," said Casey Aden-Wansbury, spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. "He brings a real weight and credibility to the important argument for the strategic value of submarines to our future security and for the critical role that the right bases, located in the right places such as New London, will play in realizing the full capability of our nation's submarine force."