Two skydivers who landed at a Navy nuclear submarine base in Georgia instead of a nearby airport after being blown off course represent an ongoing security challenge, a base spokesman told NBC News on Tuesday.
The high-security Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay along an inland waterway near the Georgia-Florida state line is the East Coast home to Ohio-class submarines, base spokesman Scott Bassett said. The submarines carry Trident nuclear ballistic missiles.
“Security is robust,” he said.
The two skydivers were noticed “immediately” Sunday, he said.
Bassett said base security and Navy investigators were on the scene, but he would not go into details about security operations.
The jumpers were supposed to land at St. Mary’s Airport, just south of the base. Strong wind knocked them off course, Cathy Kloess, owner of The Jumping Place skydiving business at St. Mary’s, told the Florida Times-Union.
One jumper was a naturalized citizen and one was not a citizen and was not carrying a passport, Jay Stanford, airport chairman, told the Time Union.
The base released the jumpers after The Jumping Place provided adequate identity for the pair, Kloess told the Times-Union.
The incident was the seventh in three years with errant skydivers, Bassett said.
“It’s a matter of serious safety concerns,” he said. "It's extraordinarily dangerous to parachute onto this base."
The Jumping Place website said the two jumpers were detained for “a couple of hours.”
“We want to remind all skydivers that the base should be only a last choice option for landing. Safety is our number one concern and the base feels the same way, so we will be introducing some new signage and classroom time with Cathy this week in reviewing procedures for off field landings.”
The incident brought derision for the jumpers on the base’s Facebook page.
“They are lucky they didn't get shot before they hit the ground,” said one person identified as Marshall Gammon.
“Great- one MORE way for some crazy terrorist to make their way onto the base to do something stupid. Isolated incident? I think not...,” said a poster identified as ItsJustBarbara.
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