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Traveling flag will welcome submarine home
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All 159 of Georgia’s counties are playing a part in rolling out the welcome mat for the return of the USS Georgia to state waters in March.

U.S. Navy representatives are collaborating with multiple Georgia Regional Development Centers to plan a statewide Georgia Flag Project that takes the state flag on a trip through each county where local government officials sign a document verifying its visit to the county.

Hall County Commission Chairman Tom Oliver inked the proclamation proving the flag visited Hall County Monday afternoon following a county work session. Hall County is the 13th county the flag has visited.

Upon the conclusion of the flag’s statewide journey, it will be presented by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the commanding officer of the USS Georgia in King’s Bay, where the submarine will be temporarily docked.

The flag will be folded and encased in a triangular shadowbox to be permanently mounted on the submarine. A logbook containing all the signed documents from each county official will also be displayed aboard the sub.

"This flag, not a replica of this flag, will be mounted on this ship," said Danny Lewis, executive director of the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center.

The USS Georgia is one of four U.S. Navy submarines undergoing a $2 billion conversion from a ballistic missile submarine to a guided missile submarine designation.

U.S. Navy Chief Carl Tilden led the ceremony Monday at the Courthouse Annex.

Retired U.S. Navy Capt. David Geer is also a member of the Metro-Atlanta Council of the U.S. Navy League, and said after all four ships undergo the conversion, the Navy aims to have at least two of the submarines deployed at all times.

The location of the submarines will be determined by a national authority, but Geer said the ships will most likely be stationed in the Mediterranean Sea or near the Middle East within the next year.