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In late March USS Santa Fe Commanding Officer, CDR Timothy Poe and the Chief of the Boat, Juan Gonzalez made their first visit to Santa Fe. It was such a positive experience for all involved that we decided to attempt another visit over the Memorial Day weekend. Our committee was provided with a “dream” list of 10 crew members. The challenge was to come up with the funds to pay their way. In the end we were successful in putting together the nearly $9000 needed to cover the airfare without leaving anyone off the list. It took the efforts of a great many people to pull this off. The thank you list is extensive.
Accommodations were provided by the Hotel Santa Fe, Santa Fe Fire Department and the Santa Fe County Fire Department. For those staying at the fire houses, linens were donated by committee member, Kay Condiss. Towels were donated by Mission Linen Supply.
The crew was on the go from the time they arrived (22 May) until the day they headed back to Pearl Harbor (28 May):
22 May: Welcome to Santa Fe at the Blue Corn Café and Brewery. USS Santa Fe Red Ale was on tap.
23 May: “Service” day. Most of the crew spent much of the day preparing meals for homebound patients at Kitchen Angels. Lt. Davila and MM2 Ortiz were interviewed on Mayor Coss’s radio show on KVSF 101.5. That afternoon CDR Poe and several crew cleaned up the USS Santa Fe CL 60 monument on the Plaza. That evening while enjoying pizza and “beverages” at Rooftop Pizza on the Plaza, the crew met Santa Fe County Fire Chief Dave Sperling who presented the crew with a special blanket. The crew also met Santa Fe Cemetery Director Cliff Shields who briefed everyone on the Memorial Day Ceremony.
24 May: CDR Poe and Lt Davila gave a presentation to the NJROTC cadets at Los Alamos High School. Most of the crew spent the morning putting out flags at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. Santa Fe Mayor Coss hosted a crew lunch at La Posada. Thanks to the efforts of Assistant Fire Chief Jan Snyder, CDR Poe and his wife Elena were invited to have lunch with Gene Hackman who in turn presented the CO with a beautiful painting.
Later in the afternoon we all met up at City Hall where a number of artifacts from CL 60 are on display including the ship’s bell. After a tour of Santa Fe City Hall, the crew posed for this group shot with Mayor David Coss. At the Rio Chama Steakhouse, a special dinner was hosted by Navy League New Mexico Council President Angie McKinstry. It was important for the crew to know the role the Navy League has here in New Mexico.
25 May: Today was to be a special treat. The New Mexico National Guard arranged for an “Orientation” flight on a Blackhawk. Mayor Coss, CDR Poe, MM Koorie were aboard as we flew over Santa Fe. A special Feast Day at San Ildefonso Pueblo hosted by Elmer and Deborah Torres. Elmer and Deborah are owners of Than Povi Fine Art Gallery. Culinary Specialist Aispuro arrived early and learned some very special recipes. A number of gifts were exchanged. Elmer and Deborah are strong supporters of the USS Santa Fe and are now committee members. Long time SF supporter Dan Gillcrist hosted the crew at his home in the hills overlooking Santa Fe.
26 May: CDR Poe and his wife Elena had a special mission early this day. Then they had a meeting with SS398 Veteran Dale Amburn, who is a prolific artist. Dale had painted three pictures depicting the USS Santa Fe and the USS Segundo, with Diamond Head in the background. Ft. Marcy Park was the setting for a Santa Fe Fuegos’s baseball game and tailgate party hosted by St. John’s College. President Mike Peters threw out the first pitch with CDR Poe catching. Thanks again to the efforts of Jan Snyder, Gene Hackman and his wife met the crew SFFD Firehouse #1 which is next door to Ft. Marcy. Dinner and “beverages” followed at the Cowgirl BBQ which was not a big deal until there conspired with the band to “talk” the crew into singing Anchors Aweigh. The crew promises to practice their singing while on deployment.
Santa Fe Fuegos Baseball Game sponsored by St. John's College. The first pitch was thrown by St. John's College President Mike Peters, with CDR Poe doing the catching honors. Photo courtesy Gabe Gomez
27 May, Memorial Day: Santa Fe National Cemetery Director Cliff Shields was thrilled to have the crew as special guests with CDR Poe one of the guest speakers. An estimated crowd of 3,000 were on hand for the ceremony with many taking the time to meet the crew and included an invite to the Santa Fe VFW for a little lunch. With the visit nearly over, the last item was a Bon Voyage BBQ and potluck hosted by committee members “Buck”, Gina and Bebe. The BBQ featured some great chicken prepared by committee member Jeff the Chef. It was the perfect ending to an amazing six days.
Media coverage was good especially with the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Journal North. There now exists a bond between the City Different and the USS Santa Fe. As the crew gets back to normal, they’re preparing to go on their July deployment. The next event to look forward to is their January homecoming in Hawaii.
Cadet John Valdeviez is currently a sophomore attending Los Alamos High School. He is active in the NJROTC unit, serving on the drill team and as the assistant to the supply officer. At this year's awards Cadet Valdeviez received the Navy League's Teddy Roosevelt Medal. John's career goal is to become a military officer, preferably in the U.S. Marine Corps.
USS Santa Fe Committee member Bill Verzino presents the Teddy Roosevelt Award to Cadet John Valdeviez
Los Alamos High School Gym
Photos courtesy Rick Carver
Information is used with permission via cadets Father
Over the past 75 years, 99 countries have issued a total of 460 submarine stamps depicting everything from naval submarines to deep-sea research vessels and Jules Verne’s fictional Nautilus. Some of those stamps have interesting stories to tell, as the following examples show.
The First Submarine Stamp
The first country to issue a submarine stamp had no submarines in service, although it did have one boat on order from the Italian Naval Shipyard at Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia). On Oct. 14, 1936, Romania issued a stamp on the occasion of its first naval exhibition (Prima Expozitie Marinareasca) showing a submarine identified as Delfinul (Dolphin) operating in rough seas.
The world’s first submarine stamp.
The picture was actually from Delfinul’s sea trails, and she was still fitting out when the stamp was issued. Although the submarine had been laid down in June 1927, disputes between the shipyard and the Romanian government delayed her construction, and she would not be commissioned into the Romanian fleet until 1938.
When Romania joined Germany in declaring war on the Soviet Union in June of 1941, Delfinul was still the country’s only submarine—compared to more than 40 in the much larger Soviet Black Sea Fleet. Nevertheless, she completed nine war patrols before being laid up to repair depth charge damage, and her mere existence presumably forced the Soviets to devote more resources to protecting convoys and the approaches to naval bases. The victorious Soviets seized Delfinul in port in August of 1944, eventually returning her so heavily damaged that she never went to sea again.
The First Submarine Stamp Issued to Raise Money
It has become common for small countries to issue stamps honoring other countries’ submarines in the hope of raising money from stamp collectors. However, the first country to issue stamps for this purpose had a sizable undersea fleet of its own.
When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Spain’s Republican government kept the Nationalist rebels from seizing any of Spain’s 12 submarines. Nevertheless, with German and Italian help, the Nationalists gradually wore down Republican forces both at sea and on land. In 1938, with the Republican government desperately short of funds, someone came up with idea of instituting a special submarine mail service called Correo Submarino, whose unique stamps could be sold as souvenirs.
One of six stamps in the Correo Submarino series.
Although C-4 was the only submarine that actually
delivered Correo Submarino, she did not appear
on the stamps, which depicted three other boats:
A-1, B-2, and D-1 shown here.
The Nationalists had clamped a naval and air blockade on Minorca, the only Spanish Mediterranean island still in Republican hands. Submarine C-4, then operating between the Republican-held cities of Barcelona and Cartagena, was assigned to deliver the Correo Submarino to the Minorcan port of Mahon.
C-4 left Barcelona on the morning of Aug. 12, 1938 carrying souvenir postcards and postal covers (souvenir envelopes) plus a number of regular letters to Republican naval personnel at Mahon. All of the mail bore the new stamps, the postmark “Primer Correo Submarino Barcelona-Mahon” and the date 11/agosto/1938. Ironically, C-4 carried the submarine mail to Minorca mostly on the surface, only submerging briefly to avoid enemy aircraft and patrol boats outside the port of Mahon. On the return voyage, she carried mail with the same postmark but dated 13/agosto/1938—even though she did not actually leave Mahon until after dark on Aug. 17.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, the single voyage of the short-lived Correo Submarino raised little revenue. Not until long after the Spanish Republic finally collapsed in 1939 did these rare stamps finally begin to command high prices from collectors and postal history buffs. As for C-4, she was taken over by the victorious Nationalists and came to an ignominious end in 1946, when she was rammed by a destroyer during maneuvers and sank with the loss of all hands.
The First Stamp Honoring Submariners
It’s not surprising that the first country to issue stamps specifically honoring its submarine service was Nazi Germany, which relied on the U-boats as its primary naval force.
One of Germany’s most prolific U-boat skippers was Kapitänleutnant Erich Topp. Topp sank six ships as skipper of U-57 and 30 more after taking command of U-552, known as the “Red Devil” boat for the devil figures painted on her conning tower. One of his victims was USS Reuben James (DD 245), the first U.S. warship lost during WWII—torpedoed under debatable circumstances on Oct. 31, 1941, while America was still technically a non-belligerent.
(Left) This 1943 German stamp shows a Type VII U-boat like Erich Topp’s U-552.
(Right) This 1944 German stamp featured an officer generally believed to be
U-boat ace Erich Topp.
Nazi propaganda trumpeted the U-boats’ victories and made successful skippers national heroes. When Germany decided to honor its U-boat men with a stamp, it naturally depicted a submarine commander at the periscope. Several sources identify the officer as Topp, but the stamp bears no inscription identifying either the scene or the man. There would have been no need. Germans had already heard a great deal about submarines, and many had no doubt seen photo or newsreel coverage of the popular U-boat ace.
Ironically, the man who sank the Reuben James and was chosen to embody the ideal submariner on a Nazi postage stamp rejoined the German Navy a few years after the war, eventually rose to two-star rank, and rendered valuable service to the Free World during the Cold War. He even spent four years in the United States as a staff member of NATO’s Military Committee.
Honoring America’s World War II Silent Service
A greater irony is that it took the United States nearly half a century to issue the first U.S. postage stamp honoring our own World War II Submariners. Meanwhile, honoring the World War II Silent Service on postage stamps became a source of revenue for several small countries—appropriately including several Pacific island states that owed their liberation from Japan at least in part to the exploits of American Submariners.
Not until 1993 did the U.S. Postal Service finally honor America’s World War II Submariners. The U.S. stamp resembled its German predecessor, but with one significant difference: It showed not only a skipper at the periscope, but also enlisted men at the controls. Because many Americans were unlikely to get the picture’s point half a century after the events it symbolized, the stamp also explicitly credited U.S. Submarines with hastening the end of the war.
Not long thereafter, the U.S. Postal Service more than made up for lost time by handsomely recognizing the centennial of the world’s oldest Submarine Force. The 16-page prestige booklet it issued in 2000 featured two five-stamp souvenir sheets celebrating U.S. Submarines from the original USS Holland(SS 1) to today’s Ohio-class, which for 30 years has served as the ultimate guarantor of America’s freedom.
The 100th anniversary souvenir sheet.
Friends and family wave to USS New Mexico as she transits the Thames River and heads out on her maiden deployment, taking her turn on the front line.
Last July and again last month, the New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company (NMPC) donated some of their award-winning coffee to the crew of USS New Mexico, altogether about 70 pounds! During their recent visit to the state, Commanding Officer George Perez and Chief of the Boat Steve Fritzler wanted to personally thank the owners and staff for their generous contributions.
The visit included a tour of the plant by owners Cindy and Frank Bassett, and son Allen, who just celebrated their 4th anniversary of owning the company. Cindy described how coffee beans and piñon nuts are blended, roasted, packaged and distributed across the state and far beyond. Every year they roast nearly one million pounds of the finest high-altitude Arabica coffee available. As for the nuts from New Mexico’s official state tree, they recently acquired 2,000 pounds of raw piñon from the Gallup area.
With the CO scheduled to visit Governor Susana Martinez the day following the NMPC tour, Cindy donated a bag of the Governor’s favorite for special delivery. It should be noted that NMPC is a 3-time winner of the "National Roasting Award", 2-time winner of the "Best Coffee in the West" - Travel West Magazine, and, among other honors, has been the "Best Selling Coffee" at the New Mexico State Fair for seven years.
The Bassett’s believe that each cup of their coffee will bring a touch of the Land of Enchantment to the crew while deployed overseas and in fact they plan to make regular contributions to the boat. As they say at NMPC, great coffee is a matter of a piñon!
The video above was taken by KOAT TV, Albuquerque, January 30, 2013, at North Star Elementary. CDR George Perez and ETCM(SS) Steven Fritzler of the USS NEW MEXICO SSN-779 deliver letters from the crew to the school children.
Dick Brown and his 779 Committee Vice Chairman, retired LCDR Damon Runyan, have spearheaded this collaboration opportunity with the USS NEW MEXICO SSN-779 and New Mexico including this letter-writing initiative with North Star Elementary School in Albuquerque. Forty-five students attending the North Star Elementary School sent letters to the crew of the Virginia-class submarine in 2012, to which USS NEW MEXICO Sailors have responded. "We received 45 letters back from individual crew members addressed to the kids," said Brown. "What a wonderful opportunity for a pen-pal exchange."
Copies of the letters submitted by the students of North Star Elementary School can be viewed online at this link: www.ussnewmexico.net.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (NNS) -- USS New Mexico (SSN 779) commanding officer and chief of the boat visited the Virginia-class attack submarine's namesake state, Jan. 29-31, in honor of the ship's commissioning nearly three years ago.
Cmdr. George Perez, commanding officer, USS New Mexico and his chief of the boat, Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Steven Fritzler met New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM), members of the USS New Mexico Committee and the New Mexico Navy League members.
"As USS New Mexico prepares to depart on her maiden deployment, it is important for us to personally convey to our namesake state and the New Mexico Committee just how much the crew appreciates their support," said Perez.
Dick Brown, chairman, USS New Mexico Committee coordinated the visit as a way to continue forging the strong bonds between the state and their namesake submarine.
"Scheduling a meeting between our governor while the State Legislature is in session and the commanding officer of a submarine is quite a challenge," said Brown. "But it's all part of our committee's work in helping to maintain strong ties between the submarine and its namesake state."
Brown and his committee vice chairman, retired Lt. Cmdr. Damon Runyan, have been spearheading other collaboration opportunities with the boat and the state to include a letter-writing initiative between an Albuquerque-based elementary school. Forty-five students attending the North Star Elementary School sent letters to the crew of the Virginia-class submarine in 2012, to which Sailors have since responded.
Copies of the letters submitted by the students of North Star Elementary School are also viewable online at the committee's website: www.ussnewmexico.net.
New Mexico was commissioned March 27, 2010 and was the sixth Virginia-class submarine to be commissioned. There are currently 127 officers and enlisted Sailors assigned to New Mexico.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.
NEW MEXICO Family and Friends!
Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a wonderful and joyous holiday season. I can assure all of you that your NEW MEXICO sailors enjoyed their well-earned vacation over the holiday period. After a grueling three-month stretch that saw NEW MEXICO complete the second of two Pre-Overseas Movement maintenance availabilities, complete Advanced Pre-deployment Training, and successfully complete an engineering evaluation, the ship and crew needed a period of rest and relaxation before entering the final phases of pre-deployment. The amount of activity onboard the ship over the last three months has been incredible to say the least. Multiple agencies, maintenance organizations, and support groups have had a near 24/7 presence onboard getting the ship ready for her inaugural deployment. Through it all, the crew's performance has been superb.
As I reflect on what has been an outstanding first full year of operations for NEW MEXICO, 2012 was a year to be remembered. Achieving surge deployment status five months early, strong performances in two major engineering assessments, a strong Supply Management Inspection, a strong performance in our Tactical Readiness Evaluation, strong performances in our 3-M and Quality Assurance assessments, Submarine Command Course Operations, serving as the host platform for the OMSUBLANT Change of Command, outstanding performance in shallow water exercises where we out hit our opposition at a 2-1 rate, and our unparalleled performance against HMS ASTUTE in the US-UK Fellowship 12 Exercise are all testaments to how well the ship and crew have performed. As I often tell the crew, submarines that perform well across the spectrum of submarine operations are performing at an excellent level. I am happy to tell you that that holds true for your sailors onboard this ship. So strong was the ship's performance in 2012, that NEW MEXICO was recognized by COMSUBRON FOUR for outstanding performance in Personnel Readiness and Navigation, earning top honors in Squadron FOUR in these categories.
In addition to the crew's overall strong performance, I'd like to take a moment to recognize five of our sailors for absolutely outstanding individual performance. For 2012, EM1(SS) Gerhart was selected as NEW MEXICO's Sailor of the Year, MM1(SS) Millsaps was selected as NEW MEXICO's Junior Sailor of the Year, FT3(SS) Watts was selected as NEW MEXICO's Bluejacket of the Year, and LT Michael Rose was selected as NEW MEXICO's Junior Officer of the Year. On a separate front, HMC(SS/SW/AW) Conner was formally recognized by COMSUBLANT as the Submarine Force's ndependent Duty Corpsman of the Year. Congratulations to each of these fine warriors for a job well-done. Each of them is truly an inspiration!
As we turn our sights to 2013, NEW MEXICO will take her place on the front lines during her first overseas deployment. I couldn't be more proud of what this ship and crew have accomplished and I have every confidence that they will continue to impress each and every one of you in the months ahead. As always, we could not perform at the level we are without your continued support. Thank you.
CDR George Perez
USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779)
Click on the link below to see the featured story on KRQE TV News 13, December 24, 2012. We wish however, to make the following correction to this interview.
Contrary to this report, past attempts to secure state funding for public outreach have not died in committee. They in fact have made it through all New Mexico Legislative Committees and have passed the New Mexico House and Senate. The problem has been at the budget bill level where the line-item request was accidentally dropped or, in the case of last year, vetoed. The Navy League New Mexico Council's USS New Mexico Committee wishes to point out that the 2006 and 2008 New Mexico State Legislatures approved $100,000 and $200,000, respectively. These funds were used for Commissioning events and for raising public awareness.
We held our Annual Members Meeting and Christmas Party the evening of 2 December. The event was well attended. Jim Fordice presented the President’s Annual Report and Mark Schaefer presented the Treasurer’s Report. (A copy of the slides used for the reports are available here) We presented a plaque to Bob Rausch and Manuel Mora from First Command for their newly established Community Affiliate membership. The main item of business was addresses by the candidates for election to the four officer positions for 2013 and the voting. The results were:
Congratulations to our new officers for 2013. Let’s give them our support as they tackle new challenges in 2013!
- Jim Fordice, CAPT USN (Ret)
President-Elect Angie McKinstry's remarks on December 2, 2012 - Election of Officers
I want to thank Tom and Rebecca for their enthusiasm for The Navy League. This election is a surprise and your confidence inspires me. First, I want to congratulate our new VP Greg Trapp and Treasurer Manuel Mora and welcome back Victor Mendoza! As new officers, we have big shoes to fill; however, I am confident we can build on the already fine accomplishments of previous New Mexico Councils headed by Rod Stewart, Lee Trussell, Joe Loisel, Damon Runyan, Rob Booms and (of course) Jim Fordice. Everything I have done and will do for Navy League NM Council is my way of thanking you, our Veterans, and your families, for your service! As you know, I am not Navy and therefore, I will need your help for all things Navy like protocols, etc. As your next Council President, I admit to having an ambitious agenda and beginning January one, I want to put the wheels in motion to grow New Mexico Council's Corporate Affiliates by utilizing the talents of some very fine Council members. I will be expanding the BOD to include new committees. This is only the beginning, but for now, thank you again for your confidence.
The New Mexico Council helped celebrate the U.S. Navy's 237th birthday by hosting its annual Navy Birthday Ball on October 20, 2012. Among the 160 attendees were four members of the USS New Mexico crew, including Engineering Officer LCDR Chris Blais, Supply Officer LTjg Justin Will, Chief of the Boat ETCM(SS) Steve Fritzler and Fire Control Division Leader FTC(SS) Frank Saviano.
LCDR Dials, as our honored guest speaker, gave a summary of recent crew activities and boat operations, followed by remarks directed to the younger members of the audience, sea cadets and their guests.
Also in attendance were LaVell Richins, BB-40 veteran (1944-1946) and his son Michael from Utah.
Here's the story about this special artifact: At dusk on May 12,1945, just off Okinawa, a formation of kamikaze suicide planes approached the Fifth Fleet flagship of Admiral Raymond Spruance, USS New Mexico (BB-40), from astern. Fire Control Operator third class LaVell D. Richins, at his battle stat ion on the forward fire control director platform, high above the bridge, helped direct the starboard 5-inch anti-aircraft guns as the nearest plane began a dive on the ship. In the last moments of the dive, a 5-inch shell burst directly under the plane, lifting it clear of the mastheads. It splashed into the sea just off the fantail. Another continued its dive on the Queen despite being peppered with 20mm and 40mm gunfire, and plunged amidships into the gun deck, tearing into the stack between the foremast and the mainmast. The plane's bombs exploded on impact and white hot shrapnel sprayed the deck as sheets of steel armament were peeled back. Gasoline from the plane's ruptured tanks ignited and shot skyward several hundred feet. Unspent ammunition from the plane and the gun deck spilled down the stack, taking out three of the ship's four boilers- Admiral Spruance himself quickly assisted in extinguishing the fires, in hopes of gathering some evidence from the plane that would be useful in the planned invasion of the Japanese homeland. When the fires had been extinguished, the ship secured from general quarters and recovery operations were set in motion. The casualty assessment was devastating: 177 including 56 dead. FCO/3C LaVell assisted other crew members with damage control, throwing parts of the plane and other debris overboard. He picked up this piece of a damaged 40mm AA gun. It is part of a counter-balance weight for the gun sights on one of the quad-mounts, and will be on permanent display aboard submarine New Mexico.
At the Navy Ball, Damon Runyan, past council president and vice chairman of the USS New Mexico Committee, was presented the Navy League's Scroll of Honor award for his outstanding service and in recognition of achievements that exemplify the Navy League's highest ideals.
Another highlight of the evening was the Anthony Murray Sr. Seaman Award, an annual award that goes to the Naval Sea Cadet Corps unit effecting the most sea cadet advancements to Seaman (L-3) during the training year.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (NNS) -- Four USS New Mexico (SSN 779) Sailors are participating in a three-day namesake state visit to New Mexico, Oct. 19-21.
Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Steven Fritzler, Lt. Cmdr. Chris Blais, Lt. j.g. Justin Will, and Chief Fire Control Technician (SS) Frank Saviano will meet with the Navy League, USS New Mexico Committee, submarine veterans, and attend the 237th Navy Birthday Ball in Albuquerque.
"The contingent of USS New Mexico Sailors are looking forward to this namesake state visit and appreciate the committee's continued support of our submarine," said Blais, USS New Mexico's engineer officer. "We look forward to further expanding that relationship during the lifetime of our submarine."
Blais, one of the featured speakers at the Navy Ball in Albuquerque, will provide an update on the Virginia-class attack submarine.
"This year our Navy celebrates its 237th birthday, and attending the Navy Ball in our namesake state is a wonderful way to reflect on our Navy's rich history," said Blais.
Submarine veterans, Navy League members and other supporters of the Navy will attend the ball in Albuquerque. Also included in that contingent are cadets from the largest organization of the sea cadets in the nation.
"Every student at the Bataan Military Academy is a sea cadet and about half of the student body is coming to our ball," said Dick Brown, chairman, USS New Mexico Committee, which is part of the Navy League New Mexico Council. "This is a great opportunity for these sea cadets, many who will probably serve in the military one day, to connect with their active duty counterparts."
Brown, who is coordinating the Sailors' three-day visit to his state reflected on meeting members of the New Mexico crew.
"It's the first visit the crew has been able to make this year," said Brown. "We are anxious to see them and meet their new chief of the boat, who we haven't met yet."
New Mexico was commissioned March 27, 2010, and was the sixth Virginia-class submarine to be commissioned.
The ship is named in recognition of the people of the "Land of Enchantment." The battleship New Mexico (BB 40), in commission from 1918 to 1946, and the only other ship named after the 47th state, earned six battle stars for World War II service, which included providing shore bombardment support for landings in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Guam, Tinian, Saipan, the Philippines, and Okinawa. BB 40 acted as the flagship for the Pacific Fleet during the 1920s. She was present at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.
New Mexico isn't near the ocean, but the state boasts three nuclear submarines as namesakes.
"Not many states can claim that," said Dick Brown, chairman of the USS New Mexico (SSN-779) Committee of the New Mexico Council of the Navy League of the United States. "The USS Albuquerque is based in San Diego, Calif., the USS Santa Fe at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the USS New Mexico at Groton, Connecticut."
Brown, a veteran of submarine duty during the Cold War, and Leo Davis, 90, who served on submarines conducting seven war patrols during World War II, were guests Friday at WhiteSandsMissileRange for a celebration of the Navy's 237th birthday. Thursday, they stopped at Bill Pippin Real Estate in Ruidoso with Millie Woods of Military Appreciation Week for a reception. They stayed overnight at the home of author and rancher Bob Johnson.
"It's tradition that any Navy group anywhere try to celebrate the annual birthday," Brown said of the founding of the Navy on Oct. 13, 1775. "We have a Naval detachment of about 24 at White Sands. They called themselves desert sailors. Leo and I were the honored guests speakers arranged by Millie. It was very special ceremony at the range headquarters. The youngest and the oldest traditionally cut the cake and Leo cut the cake at White Sands.
"I talked about the USS New Mexico and he spoke about how the torpedoes didn't work quite right at the beginning of WW2, but finally were fixed. I think the young sailors were interested."
Brown said as a former submarine sailor who served six years in the 1960s, he instigated the formation of the USS New Mexico (SSN-779) Committee and lobbied for a new nuclear sub to be named after New Mexico.
"The Navy began naming submarines after states and it had been six decades since New Mexicowas honored," he said. "I formed the committee within the New Mexico Council of the Navy League and began lobbying the Secretary of the Navy, who makes the decisions."
The first warship named after New Mexico was a battleship, the USS New Mexico BB-40. The new submarine is not only a great honor for the Land of Enchantment, but a salute to those who served aboard BB-40 and a tribute to all New Mexicans, who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces, Brown said. The ship's crest was designed by Emilee Sena, a high school senior inAlbuquerque at the time.
The new submarine is designed to conduct early strike warfare from close proximity, to deploy and retrieve special operation forces, to excel in destroying an adversary's operations at sea, to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and to fight the global war on terror, according to literature about the craft. She is armed with Mark 48 torpedoes and vertically launched Tomahawk cruise missiles.
After successful sea trials, the USS New Mexico was delivered to the Navy on December 29, 2009, four months ahead of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding contract schedule. Several months of shakedown operations were conducted in the Caribbean, proving that she was combat-ready. OnMarch 27, 2010, she was commissioned into the fleet during a special ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. The commissioning ceremony included 92-year-old BB-40 veteran Chief Warrant Officer George Smith, who helped set the first watch by passing the traditional long-glass to the officer of the watch, symbolically bridging the gap between the end of the last watch on the battleship and the first watch on the submarine.
On June 1, 2010, the USS New Mexico arrived at her first homeport, Submarine Base New London, the submarine capital of the world. Her vital statistics include that she is 377 feet long, represents 7,800 tons of displacement, her submerged speed is 25 knots or 28.7695 miles per hour, she's fueled for life and has a diving depth of more than 800 feet. The most technologically advanced submarine in the world, she carries the motto "Defendemos Nuestra Tierra," which means "We Defend Our Land." The USS New Mexico is the Navy's sixth Virginia-class, fast attack nuclear submarine.
Brown explained just securing the name didn't end the committee's involvement. Members arrange crew visits to the state, provides Sailor of the Quarter plaques to the boat, contribute to the crew's onboard living quarters and support other special activities that recognize sailors' accomplishments and raise awareness of the "awesome" submarine.
The committee, in association with the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, provides long-term support for the submarine. Through their combined efforts, the sub's interior decor has a distinctive New Mexico flair - Southwest-style bunk curtains, manufactured in Las Cruces, and the crew's mess is dubbed La Posta Abajo del Mar, or La Posta Beneath the Sea after a well-known La Posta de Mesilla restaurant, according to information provided by Brown.
Throughout the New Mexico Statehood Centennial year, the Navy League New Mexico Council's USS New Mexico Committee has been involving our undersea warriors in celebrating our state's 100th birthday.
Early this summer, the committee purchased 140 New Mexico Centennial T-shirts from Zia Graphics and shipped them to the crew. These golden yellow T-shirts, which become part of the crew's PT outfit, show the Palace of the Governors and the State Seal with the words "Land of Enchantment – NEW MEXICO – 1912-2012" – Celebrating 100 years" on the front and in red letters on the back "USS NEW MEXICO SSN 779".
In early January, in a video posted on YouTube, the crew broadcast the following birthday message: "From the officers and crew of the most powerful warship in the Navy, Happy Birthday, New Mexico!"
The committee supplied the submarine with a special centennial license plate, SSN*779, with the sub's hull designation and number. And true to the state having only rear license plates, the special plate is displayed at the aft end of the sail when in port. The committee's first thought was to ask the Navy to permanently mount the plate on the rudder which breaks the surface about 20 feet aft of the superstructure but it would probably not hold up to long saltwater exposure when the submarine is submerged.
The committee worked with the U.S. Postal Service to develop a special USS NEW MEXICO first day cover to help mark 100 years of statehood. This "Submarine Mail" was cancelled in Santa Fe on January 6, 2012, has been to sea aboard the submarine, and has been signed by the commanding officer, CDR George Perez, certifying that it has been to test depth.
These special collectibles are for sale; one can place an order by contacting the committee through this website.
A feature look at the US Navy's Silent Strike Force and its capabilities. At the 17-minute mark there is good coverage of USS NEW MEXICO and at the 25-minute mark the USS SANTA FE is mentioned.
Apollo 17 Mission Astronaut, Geologist, Professor and U.S. Senator from New Mexico Dr. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt was the Guest Speaker and he enchanted a room full of VIPs and guests. The event was held Saturday, July 21, 2012 and proceeds go to benefit Sea Service personnel in New Mexico, help expand Youth Programs including Bataan Military Academy, and continue the unmatched support for New Mexico namesake ships the USS New Mexico SSN-779 and their 134 member crew, USS Albuquerque SSN-706 and USS Santa Fe SSN-763 through the work of Navy League New Mexico Council and its members.
NEW MEXICO SSN-779 is our Navy’s newest fully certified, surge-deployable fast-attack nuclear submarine. Earmarked proceeds go toward the enhancement of the crew’s onboard living quarters, Sailor of the Quarter/Year plaques, crew visits to the state, and future special projects. Past special projects have included 1800 chili pepper lights for decorating the boat when in port for the holidays, NM Centennial T-shirts (part of the crew’s PT uniform), ball-caps (part of the crew’s work uniform), plank-owner plaques and belt buckles, books, New Mexico state flags, a battleship NEW MEXICO print for the wardroom, five specially-designed tabletops for the crew’s mess, 15 photo panels (New Mexico scenes) on double-door lockers, 11 Southwest-style passageway curtains, and 120 Southwest-style bunk curtains.
Award Winning New Mexico Council - NLUS Celebrates!
The current President and Executive Board of Directors want to thank each and everyone of our members and the general public who have participated over the years in making the New Mexico Council-NLUS an award winning council as graded by the Navy League National Organization. Jim Fordice, President, said, "Again this year, we are thrilled to be honored with an additional five Navy League National Awards for work we are all dedicated to doing in support of Sea Services personnel in New Mexico, expanding our Youth Programs including Bataan Military Academy and continuing our support for our namesake ships the USS New Mexico SSN-779 and their 134 member crew, USS Albuquerque SSN-706 and USS Santa Fe SSN-763. This makes ten national awards in four years."
2008 Outstanding Council - New Mexico - Damon Runyan, President
2009 Outstanding Council - New Mexico - Robert T. Booms, President
2009 Public Relations Recognition Award - Medium Council - New Mexico
2010 Honorable Mention Council - New Mexico - James M. Fordice, President
2010 Anthony H. Murray, Sr. Seaman Award - The Bataan Battalion, Bataan Military Academy
2011 Outstanding Council - New Mexico - James M. Fordice, President
2011 Donald M. Mackie Award - Website - 1st Place - Medium Council - New Mexico
2011 Member Retention Award - New Mexico - 83% - James M. Fordice, President
2011 Navy League Photography Award - 1st Place - New Mexico Council - Rick Carver, Photographer
2011 Anthony H. Murray, Sr. Seaman Award - The Bataan Battalion, Bataan Military Academy
New Mexico Council-NLUS efforts in the past have largely been made possible through the generosity of private corporations in and out of the state, private individuals, military support organizations statewide, the state legislature, merchandise sales and from contributors from the general public.
NEW MEXICO SSN-779 is our Navy's newest fully certified, surge-deployable fast-attack nuclear submarine. Proceeds will go towards enhancement of the crew's onboard living quarters, Sailor of the Quarter/Year plaques, crew visits to the state, and future special projects. Past special projects have included 1800 chili pepper lights for decorating the boat when in port for the holidays, NM Centennial T-shirts (part of the crew's PT uniform), ball-caps (part of the crew's work uniform), plank-owner plaques and belt buckles, books, NM state flags, battleship NEW MEXICO print for the wardroom, five specially-designed tabletops for the crew's mess, 15 photo panels (NM scenes) on double-door lockers, 11 Southwest-style passageway curtains, and 120 Southwest-style bunk curtains.