September 9, 2021
In March 2007, USS Alexandria (SSN-757) and the Royal Navy’s HMS Tireless (S 88) rendezvoused under the Arctic ice cap for two weeks of tactical development exercises and scientific research. The biannual Ice Exercises (ICEX) are conducted to familiarize submarine crews with the unique Arctic operating environment and to test torpedo performance in that challenging acoustic environment. Simultaneously, scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory and Naval Postgraduate School utilize the Ice Camp for arctic research. Tragedy struck the British submarine when a violent explosion in the forward compartment forced an emergency surfacing through the ice. Two British sailors were killed in the blast and a third was injured. An heroic medical evacuation of the injured Sailor from the submarine to the ice camp and to a hospital in Alaska ensued. I was embarked onboard USS Alexandria just prior to the explosion and will recount the challenges of submarine operations under the ice.
Vice Admiral Jay Donnelly retired from active duty on 31 December 2010 after 35 years in the Navy. A second-generation submarine officer, he was born in Groton, Connecticut. He was a physics major and distinguished graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1975. He received a Master of Science Degree in Engineering Acoustics from the Naval Postgraduate School.
His final active duty assignment was as Commander, Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) and Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic (COMSUBLANT). As COMSUBFOR he lead the Undersea Enterprise and was responsible for establishing force wide strategies on core submarine issues such as force structure, budgetary requirements, and manpower. As COMSUBLANT he had command responsibility for all Atlantic based U.S. submarines, their crews, and supporting shore activities.
Along with his wife and family, he moved 24 times during his naval career never having back-to-back tours of duty in the same location. They enjoyed multiple assignments in Japan and Hawaii and on the East and West Coasts of the United States.
Following retirement from the Navy, he became a vice president at Oceaneering International Advanced Technologies for two years before moving to Huntington Ingalls Industries where he was a Corporate Vice President for Program Integration and Assessment for six years before becoming Vice President for Advanced Technologies. He retired from HII in July 2020.
Jay and his wife, Mimi, have been married for over four decades and are the proud parents of three married children, each one a naval officer, and six grandchildren.