February 25, 2015 was Military and Veterans Day at the New Mexico State Legislature. Of the many activities in the State Capitol that day were presentations by the House and Senate to recognize the city namesake submarine USS Albuquerque’s 33 years of service to our Navy and our Nation.
USS Albuquerque (SSN-706), under the command of CDR Trent Hesslink, recently embarked on her final deployment. When she returns to her homeport in San Diego later this year, she will be decommissioned. Attending Military and Veterans Day on behalf of the Commanding Officer was CDR Don Tenney, Deputy Commander, Submarine Squadron 11.
Celebrations of USS Albuquerque began on the House Floor where Speaker Don Tripp presented a certificate to CDR Tenney officially expressing the State’s pride in the submarine’s outstanding achievements over the years.
On the Senate Floor, State Senator and retired Rear Admiral Bill Payne sponsored Senate Memorial 12 which salutes the officers and crew of USS Albuquerque. Again, CDR Tenney accepted on behalf of the Commanding Officer. The Memorial, which passed the Senate unanimously, listed many accomplishments of USS Albuquerque, including her becoming one of our first nuclear submarines to experience combat. That was in 16 years ago when she became known as “Sure Shooter of the Submarine Force” for her exceptional performance.
When the boat returns to port, CDR Tenney will relieve CDR Hesslink as the Inactivation Commanding Officer of USS Albuquerque. As the 14th and final CO, he will have the honor of commanding the submarine on her final voyage to Bremerton, Washington late this year where the combat veteran will be decommissioned and eventually dismantled.
Since her commissioning on May 21, 1983, USS Albuquerque steamed over 500,000 miles, visited over 18 countries, dived over 1,000 times, and completed over 15 deployments.
Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez also expressed his gratitude to the many submariners who have served with pride and distinction aboard USS Albuquerque over the years.
Navy League participation in the celebrations in the Merry Roundhouse included Chuck Vaughan, Rick Carver, Dick Brown, Mike Warren, Bill Verzino, Greg Scargall, Peter Mizrahi, Frances Fernandes and Renee White.
The crew of the USS Santa Fe hosted a Distinguished Visitors (DV) Cruise out of the Point Loma Naval Base, January 29, 2015. The Santa Fe had traveled to the West Coast as part of their preparation for an upcoming six month deployment.
Dick Brown and Santa Fe Fire Chief Erik Litzenberg joined 22 others for what will be Commander Timothy Poe’s last DV cruise. Everyone on this cruise were directly involved in bringing the Santa Fe crew to New Mexico October 2014.
When the USS Santa Fe returns from its scheduled deployment in the fall of this year, a Change of Command will take place at home port Pearl Harbor. Many of the Navy League of the United States New Mexico Council 763 Committee members intend to fly to Pearl Harbor to take part in USS Santa Fe's Homecoming and Change of Command ceremonies.
As a departing gift, DV cruisers gave Commander Poe and his wife Elena a state-of-the-art Karaoke Machine. Other gifts for the crew included 50 pounds of coffee, a fine selection of some local chili powders, several jars of local honey, and three cook books. The crew of the USS Santa Fe have acquired a taste for New Mexico cooking!
Committee co-chairman Mike Warren presented USS Santa Fe Sailor of the Year and Junior Sailor of the Year plaques.
As we left the harbor we passed the USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) as they headed back to Point Loma to make final preparations for their last deployment. SSN 706 is scheduled for decommissioning in the fall of 2015.
"The letters you see above are from 3rd Grade North Star Elementary School students and 4th and 5th Grade students from Southwest Learning Center, all in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A representative from the New Mexico Council, retired LCDR Damon Runyan went to both schools, on 13 October and 5 November, and presented details about how the USS NEW MEXICO got its name and its official crest, facts about how the submarine works, and information about how the crew survives beneath the sea. The enthusiastic students then wrote letters or designed Christmas cards for the crew members onboard USS NEW MEXICO and that package was forwarded to the boat at its homeport in Groton, Connecticut. Then just before Christmas, a package arrived here in Albuquerque from the Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Steve Fritzler, with individual responses to those letters and cards from crew members of all ranks and responsibilities that serve our Navy aboard this great vessel. Those responses will be hand-delivered to the students shortly after they return to class after the Holiday break."
Here are the Crew's responses to the students letters.
Nations across the globe, whether land-locked or not, whether they have a navy or not, have issued postage stamps honoring submarines. In fact, the last eight decades have seen well over one hundred nations launch nearly six hundred submarine stamps, not just depicting naval submarines, but also deep-sea research vessels and even Jules Verne’s fictional Nautilus.
In recent years, souvenir mini-sheets, containing one or more postage stamps, have become extremely popular and serve as a revenue stream for small nations. Many countries have figured out a way to serve the philatelists of the world while creating income. About forty nations, many in Africa and the Caribbean, have made submarine souvenir mini-sheets part of their export trade.
St. Kitts, also known as St. Christopher Island, is an independent island nation in the West Indies. It was first spotted by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and today is a tropical destination for cruise ships. Albuquerque operated in the area of St. Kitts in 2005 when the below stamp was issued. About that time, CDR Robert Douglass had just relieved CDR Stuart Munsch as the ship’s tenth Commanding Officer.
With hull number 706 prominently displayed on her sail, USS Albuquerque departs on sea trials. This photo was used on the St. Kitts stamp.
2005 St. Kitts submarine stamp, showing the same USS Albuquerque image, as part of a souvenir mini-sheet celebrating Jules Verne, author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Stamp photo by Rick Carver.
There have been a number of stamps featuring submarines which have participated in joint sea operations. In 2004 there was a multinational NATO exercise hosted by Morocco called Majestic Eagle, involving the Enterprise and Truman carrier strike groups. At the time, CDR Stuart Munsch was in command of Albuquerque. Now as a Rear Admiral, Munsch is in command of Submarine Group Seven in Yokosuka, Japan. He is the recipient of the Navy League’s Decatur Award for operational excellence. Other countries participating in Majestic Eagle included France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and United Kingdom. Such exercises show a unique spirit of cooperation among allied forces while strengthening diplomatic relationships, fostering cooperation in keeping sea lanes open for global trade, and testing joint-force interoperability.
USS Albuquerque surfaces off the coast of Morocco on July 12, 2004.
Ten years after Majestic Eagle, Chad issued this stamp, showing the same USS Albuquerque image, as part of a souvenir mini-sheet honoring submarines around the world. Stamp photo by Rick Carver.
Chad (Tchad in French) is a land-locked republic in north-central Africa, south of Libya and west of the Sudan, and as such has no Navy. But it is typical of so many African nations launching submarine stamps.
And so the collective global fleet of submarine stamps continues to grow. Such commemoratives serve as great tributes to submarine navies worldwide and the undersea warriors who take their submarines to sea. What a great way to honor submarines, especially the combat veteran Albuquerque.
Three Namesake Submarines Surface in New Mexico for Rare State Visit
New Mexico Navy League, October 13, 2014
by Richard M. Brown
Photos by Rick Carver
Left to right, CDR Todd Moore of the USS New Mexico (SSN-779), CDR Trent Hesslink of the USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) and CDR Timothy Poe of the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763) in center of New Mexico State Seal, crew members surround them, at New Mexico State Capitol Building, Santa Fe, NM, Oct 13, 2014. All three New Mexico namesake submarine commanders in New Mexico at the same time, at the same place, for the first time ever! Photo courtesy of Rick Carver. A picture for history!
New Mexico’s three namesake submarines -- the Los Angeles-class USS ALBUQUERQUE (SSN 706), the Improved Los Angeles-class USS SANTA FE (SSN 763), and the Virginia-class USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779), with all three Commanding Officers and their wives, and a total of 20 members of the three crews, visited the land-locked state during the period October 11 – 13, 2014.
While in the planning stages for months, it was not until the commanding officers compared their operating schedules that a simultaneous visit, albeit a historic visit, looked feasible. A collaborative effort by the Navy League New Mexico Council’s SANTA FE and NEW MEXICO support committees, and assistance for ALBUQUERQUE by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, made it all possible. The purpose was simple -– to increase public awareness of the submarines and to render a final salute to San Diego-based ALBUQUERQUE as she nears the end of her service life.
The visit included a lunch for ALBUQUERQUE’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Trent Hesslink, hosted by the Chamber’s CEO and the Mayor of Albuquerque. Cmdr. Hesslink hails from New Mexico’s northern neighbor, Colorado, and has had four sea tours. It just so happens that FTC(SS) Ramon Escalante of the ALBUQUERQUE was on leave in his hometown and joined some of the planned activities. Cmdr. Hesslink reported “ALBUQUERQUE to date has made 1,035 dives during her 32 years of service.” He added, “In August, we journeyed to British Columbia to test weapons with the Royal Canadian Navy which is celebrating its Submarine Centennial. We are now preparing for our final deployment, this time with the Fifth Fleet in the Middle East.”
Other events during the “three-sub” crew visit included a cultural experience at Tesuque Pueblo, school visits in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, the Navy Birthday Ball at Sandia Pueblo’s resort near Albuquerque with the three COs as the honored guest speakers, live interviews by two Albuquerque TV stations on the launch field during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and a chuckwagon-style BBQ at the Bonanza Creek Movie Ranch, a working cattle ranch with an Old West town southeast of Santa Fe. In addition, the undersea warriors attended a reception and luncheon at Santa Fe Community College, followed by another reception at the New Mexico History Museum, and a brief visit to the Rotunda in the State Capitol building. Santa Fe Community College just received recognition as the best veteran support, two-year college in the nation.
School visits included the University of New Mexico Naval ROTC program where LTjg Nate Pelletier, a native of Albuquerque and one of four members of the crew of NEW MEXICO, briefed midshipmen on the life of a junior officer aboard a submarine and the benefits of a career in the Navy's nuclear propulsion program.
The 12 members of the SANTA FE crew participated in various community relations projects throughout the Capital City, including visits with patients at the Santa Fe Cancer Clinic and a visit to Kitchen Angels where the crew made a generous donation to this volunteer organization dedicated to providing nutritious meals to folks facing life-challenging situations.
On the final morning of the visit, the commanding officers spent an hour answering questions from callers on KKOB Radio in Albuquerque, the most powerful station in the state. The COs described the history and importance of our undersea Navy and reiterated how special it is for New Mexico to be so prominently represented in our Submarine Force.
In describing submarine forces around the world, the Commanding Officer of SANTA FE, Cmdr. Tim Poe, reported there are about 450 submarines worldwide. The skipper is a third generation sailor and has been in command for two years. He said, “Our Navy has 73 submarines which make up about a third of our naval force and at least eight are deployed at any one time.” Cmdr. Poe’s Pearl Harbor-based boat played “target” during RIMPAC 2014, the world’s largest maritime exercise. He added that the United States has not fired a torpedo in anger since WWII.
Cmdr. Todd Moore, who has served on four boats during his naval career, assumed command of Groton-based NEW MEXICO about a year ago. He described his boat’s role in ICEX 2014, including torpedo exercises under the Arctic ice. “After ICEX, we surfaced 150 yards from the North Pole, in fact, we were the first Virginia-class to surface at the pole. On our way home, we made a port call at Halifax, Nova Scotia.”
It is interesting to note that all three COs were prior enlisted. It is also interesting to note that these skippers will all be taking their boat on deployment about the same time next year, but in different parts of the world -– ALBUQUERQUE in the Mid-East, SANTA FE in the West Pacific and NEW MEXICO in the North Atlantic.
The Grand Finale for this unprecedented “three-sub” crew visit was a reception at the residence of New Mexico’s Governor, the Honorable Susana Martinez. The Governor spent several hours with our undersea warriors, and endured a number of “selfies” with cellphone cameras. The COs presented ship’s plaques to the Governor and Army Brig. Gen. Juan Griego, New Mexico Deputy Adjutant General, read the Governor’s Proclamation designating October 13th as “New Mexico Submarine Fleet Day”. It just happened to also be Navy Day.
The Navy League’s New Mexico Council thinks it may have made history as it doubts that any other state has ever had a simultaneous visit of all its namesake ships. As the visiting crews returned to their respective homeports, they carried a new appreciation for the cities and state that their boats represent.
Left to right, CDR Trent Hesslink of the USS Albuquerque (SSN-706), CDR Todd Moore of the USS New Mexico (SSN-779) and CDR Timothy Poe of the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763) in KKOB AM Radio studios, Albuquerque, NM, Oct 13, 2014. All three New Mexico namesake submarine commanders in New Mexico at the same time, at the same place, for the first time ever! Photo courtesy of Rick Carver.
Left to right: CDR Timothy Poe of the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763), CDR Todd Moore of the USS New Mexico (SSN-779), Bob Clark of KKOB AM Radio and CDR Trent Hesslink of the USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) in KKOB AM Radio studios, Albuquerque, NM, Oct 13, 2014. All three New Mexico namesake submarine commanders in New Mexico at the same time, at the same place, for the first time ever! Photo courtesy of Rick Carver.
Left to right: CDR Trent Hesslink of USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) and CDR Todd Moore of USS New Mexico (SSN-779) leading the crews, warmly greeted at Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe, NM, photo courtesy of Rick Carver.
CDR Timothy Poe of USS Santa Fe (SSN-763) and visiting 763 crew at the New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Photo courtesy of Rick Carver.
(Obviously in costume) CDR Timothy Poe of USS Santa Fe (SSN-763), CDR Todd Moore of USS New Mexico (SSN-779) and CDR Trent Hesslink of USS Albuquerque (SSN-706), toasting with a shot of "Snakebite", Bonanza Creek Saloon, Santa Fe, NM October 2014, Photo courtesy of Rick Carver.
CDR Trent Hesslink, Commanding Officer of USS Albuquerque (SSN-706), took time out of the ship’s busy operations schedule for Albuquerqueans to experience a day aboard their city namesake submarine.
Distinguished visitors after ride aboard USS Albuquerque. US Navy photo
It was July 11, 2014 when representatives of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the Navy League New Mexico Council and the Navy League Orange County Council converged on Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego. The group of 25 distinguished visitors (DVs) first visited with the Submarine Squadron 11 Commodore, CAPT Gene Doyle. From his office, the DVs watched Albuquerque come into view as she approached the submarine base.
Albuquerque Arriving! City namesake approaches pier at Naval Base Point Loma.
As the boat moored and a crane put the brow in place, an excited Terrie Q Sayre, Radio Talk Show Host, filed a live report on Bob Clark’s Morning Show.
Radio Host Terrie Q Sayre calls in to KKOB 770 AM Radio
Rick Carver, Navy League photographer extraordinaire, caught each DV climbing down the hatch. This included NM Lt Governor John Sanchez, NM Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela, and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, wife Maria and son Jacob.
New Mexico Lt. Governor John Sanchez descends through the hatch
Cabinet Secretary Jon Barela of the State’s Economic Development Department enters the sub
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry goes down
Other DVs included Chamber CEO Terri Cole, Chamber Senior Vice President of Communications Sara Lister, UNM Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Chaouki Abdallah, UNM Vice President for Research Mike Dougher, Rio Rancho Observer Publisher Rocky Hayes, Albuquerque Journal Editor-in-Chief Kent Walz, Chuck & Kris Vaughan, Terrie Sayre, Gene Bahlman, Lee Blansett, John Kos, Dick Brown, Rick Carver, plus Hugh Parsons (USS Midway docent in San Diego) and five DVs from the Orange County Council. All tolled, Rick snapped about 700 pictures.
Terri Cole of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce descends
Lee Blansett, who heads up the New Mexico Council’s awards program for junior ROTC units statewide, goes down the hatch
Terrie Q in the hatch
With all aboard, the boat cruised on the surface, all the while evading pleasure craft, commercial shipping and other naval vessels. At a point about 25 miles out, she dived in deep water. It was an 8-hour undersea adventure, including some wild “angles and dangles” as the crew demonstrated what their boat could do. Surface transits, outbound and inbound, allowed time for every DV to climb up to the bridge; some were lucky enough to see dolphins playing in the bow wave.
Briefing for DVs in the crews mess
In the control room as crew monitors ballast tank vent operations during the dive
Terrie Q loaded in torpedo tube
The USS Albuquerque is known as the “Sure Shooter” of the Submarine Force – a sobriquet stemming from her combat service during the Kosovo conflict when her Tomahawks hit 100% of their targets. The Los Angeles-class fast-attack was commissioned 31 years ago. She was refueled in 2003 and Navy Leaguer Chuck Vaughan had a hand in that major overhaul. The boat has been honored with three Battle Efficiency “E” awards, a Navy Unit Commendation and three Meritorious Unit Commendations. Currently her Executive Officer is LCDR Chris Brown and her Chief of the Boat is Senior Chief Brian Doyle.
Capt Chuck Vaughan, USN(Ret) who was involved in Albuquerque’s mid-life refueling
Once submerged, CDR Trent Hesslink relaxes with a copy of the Albuquerque Magazine
Orange County Navy Leaguers presented third quarter certificates and checks to crew members selected as Sailor of the Quarter. When Albuquerque changed homeport from Groton, Connecticut to San Diego, California, the Orange County Council “adopted” the boat and has provided support to the crew ever since.
Bill Forrey of the Orange County Council presents a certificate to Junior Sailor of the Quarter, Petty Officer Anthony Crisci
USS Albuquerque’s Ship’s Sponsor is Nancy Domenici, wife of former six-term USS Senator Pete Domenici. Pete was instrumental in having the 19th LA-class nuclear sub named after the City of Albuquerque which was established in 1706. He vaguely recalls that the Navy may have selected hull number SSN-706 because of the year 1706. With the submarine nearing the end of its service life (deactivation will take place late next year), Nancy wrote a letter to the crew which was read over 1MC and is reproduced below:
June 25, 2014
CDR Trent Hesslink, USN
Commanding Officer, USS Albuquerque (SSN 706)
It’s hard to realize that it has been over 32 years since your ship was christened in Groton, Connecticut. It was such a joyous, exciting occasion - particularly as her sponsor and having the honor of breaking a bottle of champagne across the ship’s bow and christening her the Albuquerque! And I still recall feeling the pride and awe a year later in New London as USS Albuquerque was commissioned as the newest (and best!) nuclear submarine in the United States Navy.
Those were memorable times, but far more of a thrill has been the knowledge of all the many American sailors that have served since those days on this marvelous ship. My husband Senator Pete Domenici and I, along with countless citizens of Albuquerque, have been extremely thankful for USS Albuquerque as she has represented our city and our nation in her naval operations around the world and her accomplishments to keep us free.
None of those essential, world-wide operations would have been possible were it not for the dedicated and professional officers and enlisted men, present and past, who have served in USS Albuquerque for over three decades! Please tell your officers and crew how very proud my husband and I are of their service in making this submarine the best in the fleet.
Thank you for all your commitment to the Navy and our country. God Bless each of you,
The trip included a burial at sea for a local Albuquerque WWII submarine veteran, Jack Bahlman, who passed away on June 15th at age 87. He served on the diesel submarine USS Brill and was temporarily assigned to ex-Japanese submarine I-14 when it was present in Tokyo Bay for the September 2, 1945 surrender ceremony. For the rest of his life Jack carried a card in his wallet attesting to this rare duty. It was signed by Fleet Admiral Nimitz, Admiral Halsey and Vice Admiral Lockwood. The burial at sea ceremony was conducted by the local Navy Chaplain in the torpedo room while submerged. The family was represented by Gene Bahlman of Chino Valley, Arizona.
Gene Bahlman accepts the US flag from CDR Hesslink at the end of the ceremony
Skipper at the periscope prior to surfacing
Mayor Berry on the bridge with wife Maria and son Jacob
Berry family topside
According to Navy Leaguer Dick Brown, “The DV cruise gave participants a new appreciation for the professionalism, skill and dedication of the 135 submariners assigned to USS Albuquerque”.
Down the hatch - Dick Brown, former submariner and longtime USS Albuquerque supporter
On July 22, 2014, the Navy League New Mexico Council’s USS New Mexico Committee participated in a very special event at NM Veterans’ Memorial Park.
Four color-coded Midwest teams representing the All American Girls Professional Baseball League celebrate their 2014 Reunion in Albuquerque.
It was the occasion of the 2014 Reunion of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) and the two-inning, four-team reenactment of a baseball game that typified the iconic 1992 movie “A League of Their Own” starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks. The film told the story of two sisters joining the first AAGPBL during WWII, when male baseball players had gone off to fight for our nation. The league inspired young women with self-confidence and spirit. In a sense, they served as pioneers in women’s sports. Still to this day the league promotes girls baseball through nostalgic annual reunions held around the country and this year Albuquerque was selected as the host city. Attending this year’s reunion were original players from America’s difficult war years, such as Terry Uselmann of Park Ridge, Illinois, and nearly 300 fans.
The committee had an outdoor exhibit and sales booth featuring, of course, USS New Mexico baseball caps and colorful custom-printed baseballs.
Damon Runyan showing a USS New Mexico poster to out-of-state visitors.
The baseball celebration included a ceremony featuring the Dukes of Albuquerque Band; Albuquerque’s Eastdale Little League girls softball team; a color guard/rifle unit; and remarks by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, and Navy Leaguer Damon Runyan.
Damon took the opportunity to describe the Navy League’s mission and to highlight the work it does locally to support the officers and crew of our state namesake submarine. He then distributed thirty baseballs to the Eastdale girls who in turn presented them to the AAGPBL players, past and present, representing four mid-western women teams from across the country: Rockford Peaches, Racine Belles, Kenosha Comets and South Bend Blue Sox.
Damon promoting USS New Mexico and passing souvenir baseballs down the line of Eastdale coaches and players.
The Eastdale girls major softball team deserve special mention as they won the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Oregon in August 2012 – the second champion from New Mexico in the 40-year history of the World Series. The Eastdale Little League team demolished its competitors, winning all six of its games by a combined score of 67-5.
Eastdale Little League helps Navy League pass out USS New Mexico baseballs to AAGPBL players.
Baseballs being presented to AAGPBL players.
Marine JROTC Cadet Angel Vega, Marine JROTC Cadet Maria de la Cruz,
and Marine JROTC Cadet Donny Rae Crapse
Donny Crapse, Sr (father), Jeanette Delgado (mother), Molly Guethe (girlfriend) and
Atrisco Heritage Academy Marine JROTC Cadet Donny Rae Crapse, $750 scholarship
First Sergeant Alberto Griego, La Cueva High School Unit Commander; Joe and Geraldine Pacheco
(grandparents); Marine JROTC Cadet Maria de la Cruz, $750 scholarship winner
Major Jim Koerber, Eldorado High School Unit instructor; Rachael Vega (mother); Marine
JROTC Cadet Angel Vega, $1000 scholarship winner; and John Jones, representing the
New Mexico Council Board of Directors
The winners! Marine JROTC Cadets Angel Vega, Maria de la Cruz, and Donny Rae Crapse
Dear Veterans of the Navy League,
I was honored to receive a sword from your organization at our annual awards ceremony. Thank you very much for your generosity, I greatly appreciate your gift as do all the recipients in the past. I will proudly keep it with me during my career in the Navy and as I promised I will gladly join the Navy League and pay your generosity forward when I retire.
Wishing you all the best,
It has been a very busy and exciting time onboard the USS ALBUQUERQUE. Last month we successfully conducted our Sea Trials testing following a very intense 7 month maintenance period. The ship and crew performed well and it was a great feeling to get our sub back in the water where it belongs.
We were also selected by Squadron Eleven to be the host boat for the CS THOMSON, one of four Chilean diesel submarines. They were in San Diego to participate in a multi-national exercise involving several classes of U.S. warships. Both wardrooms attended a social in downtown San Diego where they exchanged gifts and sea stories.
On May 10th at the Harbor Island Sheraton, several Sailors of our crew attended the 2014 Submarine Birthday Ball. The theme for this year’s ball was "A Century of Submarines in San Diego". In true New Mexico fashion, the members of the wardroom showed up in bolo's and turquoise cummerbunds. A great time was had by all!
Over the next several months, the ship will be in and out of port several times as we continue to go to sea in preparation for our deployment next year. We look forward to our distinguished visitor cruise in July, where we can show you a typical day in the life of a submariner onboard USS ALBUQUERQUE.
USS New Mexico had the good fortune to be selected for ICEX (Ice Exercise) 2014. In late February she was seen cruising down the Thames River, past USS Nautilus (SSN-571), bound for points north. She transited up the Atlantic seaboard and across the Arctic Circle to the North Pole. There she paused to check on ice conditions in advance of a return visit, then on to Ice Camp Nautilus, 200 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
USS New Mexico at the geographic North Pole
ICEX is organized by the Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL) about every two years. Ice Camp Nautilus is ASL’s temporary village on the icepack consisting of command hut, mess shed, sleeping quarters, runway and heliport. This year’s ICEX was a two-week joint tactical exercise by USA, UK and Canada, and began on March 17th. It not only involved Groton-based USS New Mexico (SSN-779) but also San Diego-based USS Hampton (SSN-767). Below Ice Camp Nautilus, as Russia annexed Crimea, the two submarines rendezvoused for a set of under-ice war games.
Ice Camp Nautilus – note USS New Mexico in center background
With Russia stepping up claims in the Arctic, it is important for our Submarine Force to train and prepare for a wide range of operations in one of the most challenging environments on the planet. ICEX assures continued access to the Arctic region while honing the skills of our submarine crews.
New Mexico surfaced at the edge of the makeshift village and moored to the ice floe. Hampton arrived in the area the next day. The Los Angeles-class boat’s role in the exercise was to simulate a Russian Akula-class submarine. Later a crack or lead split the ice floe right down the runway. With concerns for safety, it was decided to end ICEX 2014 on March 23rd and dismantle Ice Camp Nautilus a little earlier than planned.
USS New Mexico surfacing at Ice Camp
USS Hampton joins ICEX 2014
Guests of the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Jonathan Greenert, himself a submariner, arrived by air from Prudhoe Bay for an under-ice cruise. CDR Todd Moore, Commanding Officer, reported that this ICEX had an exceptionally high level of distinguished visitors (DVs). Besides the CNO they included Undersea Warfare Director RADM Joseph Tofalo, Sub Group Two Commander RDML Ken
Perry, Undersecretary of Defense Frank Kendall, US Senator Angus King (I-ME), Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM), Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, New York Times (NYT) Reporter Thomas Friedman, and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Reporter Julian Barnes.
Our USS New Mexico Committee has been in communication with Julian Barnes. He reported “The New Mexico decorations are quite prominent in the submarine —the New Mexico flag and hot air balloon wall coverings. You can see them in both videos with my ICEX stories.”
Julian adds “They presented us with hot pepper pins when we arrived and served coffee roasted in New Mexico — and the crew was definitely impressed with the dedication of its New Mexico sponsors.”
Julian’s WSJ articles were titled “Cold War Echoes Under the Arctic Ice — American Naval Exercise Using a Russian Submarine Takes On New Importance” and “Life on a Navy Sub Relies on Rules: Some Dead Serious, Others Completely Ridiculous”, published on March 26th and May 1st, respectively. They both reflected very well on USS New Mexico. Earlier, on January 13th, his WSJ article “Arctic Passage Opens Challenges For U.S. Military — Thinning Polar Ice Expected to Give Way to New Commercial Waterways and Resource-Rich Frontier” was published.
Tom Friedman’s NYT article “Parallel Parking in the Arctic Circle — Aboard USS New Mexico in the Arctic” was published on March 29th. He said, “My strongest impression was experiencing something you see too little of these days on land: “Excellence.” You’re riding in a pressurized steel tube undersea. If anyone turns one knob the wrong way on the reactor or leaves a vent open, it can be death for everyone. This produces a unique culture among these mostly 20-something submariners.”
Besides the coverage by WSJ and NYT, the Navy news media ran at least a dozen stories on ICEX and USS New Mexico.
NM Congressman Steve Pearce
Congressman Pearce described his undersea experience, “I had the privilege of participating in the Navy’s ICEX operations. During this two day trip to the Arctic, I took part in a number of briefings, drills, and activities around and aboard the USS New Mexico — showcasing the mission and capabilities of the ship. In addition to the operations being conducted, I was able to interact on a one-on-one basis with the sailors aboard the USS New Mexico.”
Distinguished visitors prepare to board New Mexico
CNO with YN1(SS) Gaines, note red chile ristra upper right
CNO presentation to the officers and crew of USS New Mexico, accepting is Executive Officer LCDR Craig Litty
Senator King stated, “After touring Camp Nautilus, we made our way over to the USS New Mexico, a Virginia-class nuclear powered attack submarine that had broken through the ice only a few hours earlier. After we boarded, the submarine began its descent down to about 500 feet, where the Navy spent the next 20 hours conducting maneuvers and testing the ship's capabilities beneath the ice. . . Perhaps, however, the most impressive part of the entire trip was the quality of the people serving aboard.”
After the exercise, New Mexico sailors had some “ice liberty” at Ice Camp Nautilus. Then on her return, New Mexico surfaced at the North Pole for some more ice liberty.
Incognito sailor on ice liberty at Ice Station Nautilus
Arctic Village People?
Skipper Todd Moore at the North Pole
Crew at the Top of the World
Ice football at North Pole
US flag at the North Pole
On this trip, New Mexico celebrated her fourth birthday. She was commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk on March 27th 2010 and turned four years old in the Arctic Ocean on March 27th 2014. For her onboard celebration, the ship’s culinary specialists crafted a special birthday cake.
Happy Birthday, USS New Mexico!
Before returning to port in Groton on Good Friday, the boat made a week-long port call in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Photos Courtesy of US Navy
In Memory – Leo Davis (1922-2013)
Leo was a combat submariner and Fire Control Technician during WWII (1942-1946), earning the Bronze Star & various campaign medals. His battle station was in the conning tower of USS Cod (SS-224). Leo was one of 15 crewmen who made all seven war patrols. His old boat survives today as a submarine museum in Cleveland. In life after the Navy, Leo was a journeyman electrician and electrical contractor; president of SubVets WWII, Sandia Base; and a USSVI Holland Club member. He was a charter member the Navy League USS New Mexico Committee.
Leo’s wish to be buried at sea was fulfilled by USS New Mexico, but in such a way and in such a place that he could never have imagined. His cremains were consigned to the deep, shot from torpedo tube #1, while submerged at the North Pole.
In Memory - Shep Jenks (1926-2014)
In 1956, LT Shepherd “Shep” Jenks reported aboard USS Nautilus as the Navigator. It was a challenging role as he guided Nautilus on the first-ever transpolar under-ice voyage, passing under the North Pole on August 3, 1958. Sadly, Shep passed away on March 26, 2014 at age 87, while USS New Mexico operated in the Arctic, nearly 60 years after the commissioning of the world’s first nuclear submarine.
Shep Jenks was a graduate of the Naval Academy, Class of ’49. After Nautilus, he was the commissioning engineer on USS George Washington (SSBN-598), the CO of USS Skipjack (SSN-585), the CO of Nuclear Power Training Unit, the CO of USS Abraham Lincoln (SSBN-602) and the CO of USS Fulton (AS-11). He retired with the rank of Captain in 1971. After working for Bechtel for ten years, Shep had a new calling and became an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church. Reverend Jenks performed funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery for retired RADM Richard O’Kane, WWII Medal of Honor recipient, in 1994 and for retired CAPT William Anderson, his former commanding officer of Nautilus, in 2007.
Rev Shep Jenks
Shep Jenks was a longtime member of the Naval Submarine League and the Navy League of the United States. He served on the Navy League’s USS New Mexico Committee in the early days, when he and wife Nancy lived in Albuquerque, and delivered the invocation at the naming ceremony with Secretary of the Navy Gordon England in December 2004. Shep and Nancy were living in Vallejo, California at the time of his death.
Victor Kim is a sophomore at Los Alamos High School. He plays the piano, runs cross country and is involved with NJROTC. Victor has been in the NJROTC program for two years and has his sights on serving his country via The United States Navy via the Naval Academy majoring in Chemistry or Engineering. This year’s Theodore Roosevelt Award sponsored by the Navy League New Mexico Council has been awarded to Victor Kim, 17 April 2014.
USS Santa Fe Committee member Bill Verzino awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Award to Sophomore Victor Kim
First, Rear Admiral Perry, COMSUBGRUTWO, with USS New Mexico at ICEX base camp.
Second, DVs disembarking from the boat.
Lastly, CNO on bridge, crew clearing ice from topside.
We have one REALLY COOL sub!
ICE CAMP NAUTILUS (NNS) -- The Navy's top admiral, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, spent time last weekend at the Navy's Arctic Ice Camp and embarked aboard the USS New Mexico (SSN 779) as it participated in Ice Exercise 2014 (ICEX) with USS Hampton (SSN 767) beneath the Arctic Ocean.
"It's necessary to continue to ensure our systems, our sensors, our weapons and our platforms as we move to the Virginia-class submarine are proficient to operate correctly in the Arctic," said Greenert. "And it's also to build the next generation of submarine folks who will operate in the Arctic."
The mission of the ICEX is to train in the Arctic environment to refine and validate procedures and required equipment, as the Arctic Ocean serves as a route for submarines to transit in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
CNO has touted undersea dominance and the Arctic maritime domain as essential areas of focus for the Navy. Understandably, this exercise created a great opportunity to merge these two focus areas and learn within the environment and build a knowledge base for operations there.
The Arctic has been and will be a focus area for the Navy in years to come, said Greenert.
The President released the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region in January. The Department of Defense is preparing for possible changes in the Arctic's operating conditions due to the discussion of climate change and receding ice.
ICEX will continue to expand to a more comprehensive exercise in the future, said Greenert.
"We'll leverage what we've learned in this and future ICEX assessments to work with our partners in industry to develop technologies for our other platforms and personnel who will operate in this environment," he said.
The CNO's visit began in the nation's northernmost point, Prudhoe Bay, Ala. From there, CNO like other scientists and international partners, flew 150 miles north to Ice Camp Nautilus. The ice camp, adrift on the Arctic sea ice, supports the overall ice exercise conducted by the Submarine Force and the Arctic Submarine Laboratory.
Of his first impressions of the camp, "Isn't it astounding that here is one of our pieces of sovereignty out in the middle of the ice, surfacing, and then its crew waiting as if we were walking down a pier in Connecticut, San Diego, Norfolk, or Bremerton [to board]," said Greenert.
Despite the frigid conditions the submarine people were acting as though it was business as normal, said Greenert.
"Once we got onboard, the camaraderie the awareness of the crew that they were doing something special was impressive," said Greenert. "The crew was very proud, and the ownership the crew had for their ship and systems was extraordinary."
Operating in the undersea domain can be problematic, but the added challenge of operating beneath the ice requires a special kind of precision, said Greenert.
"In the back of your mind if trouble ever emerges - if you have flooding or a serious fire you head to the surface," said Greenert, who is also a former submariner. "You can't do that in the Arctic, with ice all around and above you."
Witnessing the alertness, awareness and teamwork the New Mexico crew displayed while surfacing through the ice elicited applause from the ICEX visitors aboard, said Greenert.
The vastness and beauty of the arctic combined with the unforgiving environment is something that is a highlight of his 38-year naval career, said the admiral. "The extraordinary nature of being able to go to the North Pole, I'm still trying to internalize it," said Greenert.
It was tempting to poke fun at politicians cavorting on a submarine in Hawaii.
But then I talked to Rick Carver and Dick Brown. Somehow, they took all the humor out of the idea.
Carver and Brown are with the Navy League, heading committees that coordinate activities and support for crew members aboard locally named submarines: Carver for the USS Santa Fe and Brown for the USS New Mexico.
(Our landlocked state also has a USS Albuquerque.)
Carver was behind a trip to Hawaii by city and area officials in January to welcome crew members of the USS Santa Fe back to their Pearl Harbor port after a six-month deployment.
Tough duty for an elected official, all right: Spend some time on a Pacific island in winter, combining a family vacation with quasi-official duties. Besides Carver, officials traveling for the event included Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, City Councilors Peter Ives and Chris Calvert, former San Ildefonso Gov. Elmer Torres, and Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera.
But an article about the event written for military publication expressed a feeling of crew members being honored to have those officials there to greet them. Machinist Mate 1st Class Robert Roybal, a crew member who grew up in Santa Fe, was quoted as saying, "To remember all the people back home, and think of their support, one cannot help but to be humbled and intensely grateful."
And that's what activities like this are all about, according to the area organizers.
"It's a huge morale builder," said Carver. Of nine submarine squadrons stationed at Pearl Harbor, only three had any kind of support from their namesake cities, he said.
"I continually hear that our two N.M. committees are doing things most communities are not doing to support the crews and families of their namesake submarines," Carver, a retired photojournalist and six-year Navy veteran, wrote in an email.
And some of those things are pretty innovative.
Brown said the Navy League has been active in New Mexico for about 50 years and was behind the 2004 naming of the USS New Mexico. As part of its involvement, it accessorized the submarine with the spirit of the state.
Rather than the standard blue, curtains separating bunks and sections of the submarine carry colorful Navajo-type patterns, he said. Five tabletops in the crew mess carry the bright yellow and red Zia symbol of the state flag. Cooks at La Posta de Mesilla instructed the sub's culinary specialists on New Mexico cooking - green and red chile at sea? - and 15 double-door lockers carry photographic panoramas of various state scenes, Brown said.
He said he recently sent off boxes of piñon coffee and biscochitos to the New Mexico crew.
The committee also prepares plaques to honor crew members chosen by their commanding officer for recognition. "They really like those," he said.
And crews from both subs have visited New Mexico and Santa Fe, at the expense of the respective committees, to learn more about their namesakes. "The idea is to get the crew to know better the state history, geography and cultures so they know what their sub is named after. We do that two or three times a year," said Brown, a six-year Navy veteran who served aboard submarines.
Generally, most committees supporting submarines named after their locales gear up for the official commissioning ceremonies - it was in Norfolk, Va., for the USS New Mexico - but peter out a year or two after that. His research showed that 40 percent of active duty submarines currently have active support groups, he said.
Even though the USS Santa Fe was commissioned in 1994, it didn't get its own support group until Carver ran into some sailors from the USS New Mexico at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 2009. He was working on a book about life in New Mexico as a benefit for the Esperanza shelter, he said, and it made sense to include some shots related to the submarine.
In June 2012, he went to Hawaii and met with the commanding officer of the USS Santa Fe. "I came back committed to putting together a committee to support the crew," Carver said.
So that committee's efforts are in a relatively early stage, so far involving visits from crew members and their commanding officer to Santa Fe - and the visit of city officials (at their own expense, according to the city news release) to Hawaii.
Such a homecoming, according to Carver, is a really big deal. The crew is out of touch with their families for six months, except for four port calls when they can make contact, he said.
"The commanding officer (Timothy Poe) is very much in tune with what we're trying to do," he said. "And we probably couldn't do it without the support of Mayor Coss and the city of Santa Fe. They've just been terrific with this whole thing."
The 19 guests from Santa Fe were honored to be part of a special wreath ceremony on the USS Arizona. From left to right, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and his wife Carol, the George Rivera Family and CDR Timothy Poe of the USS Santa Fe SSN-763. Photo courtesy of Rick Carver.
USS Santa Fe SSN 763 - Welcome Home
By Rick Carver
On 28 January, 2014, the USS Santa Fe returned home to Pearl Harbor after completing a scheduled six month deployment. For SSN 763 this was deployment number eight since being commissioned in 1994. Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and USS Santa Fe Committee Chairman Rick Carver led a group of nineteen who traveled to Pearl Harbor for the homecoming. In preparing for the homecoming, 150 gift bags were filled with goodies and handed out to the entire crew. Among the items were handmade angels from Blue Star Mother's of Santa Fe. Just For Grins, a Santa Fe based organization promoting dental health in children donated toothpaste and toothbrushes. The City of Santa Fe's transportation service Santa Fe Trails donated the cloth bags, The Santa Fe Visitor's Bureau donated pins, the Torres Family and Than Povi Art Gallery donated 150 arrowheads. Finally the City of Santa Fe took care of shipping these items to Hawaii. The Santa Fe Model Railroad Club donated a beautiful scale model of the Santa Fe Chief in a display case. USS Segundo veteran, Dale Amburn donated one of his beautiful paintings.
The evening before the homecoming the Santa Fe Group of nineteen participated in a "meet and greet". An estimated 250 people including family members, representatives from COMSUBRON7, COMSUBPAC, and Public Affairs attended. Also in the audience were representatives from several of the other boats in the squadron curious about our committee's activities. As a side note, only one other boat in the squadron has ties to the Navy League.
Our group included Mayor Coss, Santa Fe City Councilors Chris Calvert and Peter Ives, Former Governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo Elmer Torres, Governor George Rivera of Pojoaque Pueblo, committee member Frances Fernandes, Tony Balano and Karen Sloan of the Santa Fe Model Railroad Club. Others in the group included Tracee Torres who did the artwork resulting in a 4 foot long pennant depicting the Guardian of Water, Avanyu. The 5 year old son of George and Felicia Rivera, who performed the hoop dance both at the meet and greet and the reception following the Santa Fe's return to port was part of the welcoming party.
Outgoing Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, took the tugboat ride out to meet the Santa Fe and joined Commander Poe on the bridge. The Mayor exchanged flags receiving a City flag that had been taken to the summit of Mt. Fuji. Mayor Coss also proclaimed January 28, 2014, Welcome Home USS Santa Fe.
Commander Timothy Poe's wife, Elena and USS Santa Fe Ombudsman, Bronwen Shaffner did a terrific job arranging for the homecoming events. They met each of us as we arrived in Honolulu. The return home of the USS Santa Fe sets the stage for 2014 with the probability of 2 crew visits.
USS Santa Fe SSN-763 passing the Arizona Memorial on her final approach. Note all the yellow & red.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Jodi McGinnis Porter; Public Information/Multi-Media Administrator; 505-795-4169, firstname.lastname@example.org
Homecoming for Submariners of the USS Santa Fe in
Pearl Harbor, HI
PEARL HARBOR, HI - Welcome home submariners! Nineteen Santa Feans including Mayor David Coss, City Councilors Chris Calvert and Peter Ives, and members the local USS Santa Fe Committee joined family members of the crew from the 52nd Los Angeles class fast attack nuclear-powered submarine, also dubbed the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763), to welcome them back home to Pearl Harbor after a six-month deployment.
The USS Santa Fe, named after our City, is a Los Angeles class nuclear attack submarine based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, led by Commander Timothy Poe. The submarine was commissioned in 1994, carried 151 crewman on this deployment. For 60 of the submariners this was their first mission; 20 crew members were promoted during the deployment that covered over 31,500 miles.
When Commander Poe was asked what it meant to have the Mayor of Santa Fe and local Santa Feans traveling at their own expense to welcome home the crew and submarine, he stated: “Mayor Coss is one of the biggest supporters of the USS Santa Fe and he has been instrumental in strengthening the bond between the crew and the great people of Northern New Mexico. The crew is honored to have all of the representatives present to welcome us home!”
Mayor Coss and Rick Carver, Chair of the USS Santa Fe Committee, traveled by tugboat to meet the submarine on its approach to Pearl Harbor and then sailed into port on board the USS Santa Fe.
“It was a privilege to sail into Pearl Harbor with the crew of the USS Santa Fe when they returned home,” said Mayor David Coss. “I am very proud of their service and I’m very pleased with our relationship.”
The USS Santa Fe Committee, chaired by Rick Carver, works hard to support and honor the submariners who sail the submarine named after the City of Santa Fe that protects our nation’s interests. The committee sponsored ten crewmembers to travel to Santa Fe last Memorial Day to participate in several ceremonies and events.
“We have been working for a year to welcome home the crew of the USS Santa Fe and we support the boat that is our City’s namesake,” said Rick Carver. “We are so proud of our sailors and the sacrifice that they make for our country.”
When each sailor stepped off the submarine, they were presented with a lei and given a bag of goodies shipped from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The USS Santa Fe Committee held a stuffing party on January 6, 2014 and immediately and shipped 151 bags, donated by Santa Fe Trails, filled with goodies from our City that included items such as: handmade angels donated from Blue Star Mothers of Santa Fe, local handcrafted wooden guardian angels purchased by Councilor Peter Ives, trinkets from Santa Fe, brochures about the City and baked goods provided by the USS Santa Fe Readiness Group.
The nineteen people from Santa Fe who went to Pearl Harbor include: Mayor David Coss and First Lady Carol Rose Coss; Councilor Chris Calvert and his wife, Carol; Councilor Peter Ives and his wife Patricia; Former Governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo Elmer Torres and his wife Deborah and daughter Tracy; Rick Carver, Chair of the USS Santa Fe Committee; Pojoaque Governor George Rivera, his wife Felicia and son Valentino; Frances Fernandez; Karen Sloan; Jo Rita Pesislets; Tony Balano; Jodi McGinnis Porter; and Michelle McGinnis.
At the Homecoming Meet and Greet for the family members of the USS Santa Fe and the Homecoming, Valentino Rivera, son of Pojoaque Governor and Mrs. Rivera, danced the ‘Hoop Dance’ while former San Ildefonso Governor Elmer Torres played the drums. Five-year-old Valentino had practiced for several months prior to the visit in preparation for the Homecoming Ceremony.
Valentino drew the names for the crewman’s first kiss and hug at the Meet and Greet, which is a very special moment for the families. The first crewman off the boat to receive a kiss was Lt. Commander Michael Lilleberg who kissed his wife Tara. The first hug was Machinist Mate First Class Jordan Crofut who hugged his wife Emmalynn and daughter.
After the homecoming, families and visitors from Santa Fe, New Mexico, were invited for a tour of the submarine. During the tour, Lt. Commander John Schaffner explained how the USS Santa Fe got her nickname. “The USS Santa Fe is deemed the ‘Lucky Lady, because, in thirteen battles, she never lost a sailor, no crewman was ever lost,” stated, Lt. Commander John Schaffner.
For Santa Fe City Councilors who made the trip to Hawaii it was exceptionally poignant and they had this to say.
“Being the grandson of two career Navy officers, one of whom served in the submarine services of the U.S. Navy from 1921-1944 when he was killed in Normandy, I’ve heard many family stories of naval homecomings,” said Councilor Peter Ives. “It is with a great sense of both privilege and gratitude that I’ve now been able to experience a boat’s homecoming first-hand.”
“I want to thank the crew of the USS Santa Fe for their service to our country and let them know that we are proud of the way they honor the name of our City,” said Councilor Chris Calvert. “We appreciate the sacrifices of the crew and their families.”
The USS Santa Fe has one crewmember from New Mexico, Machinist Mate First Class Robert Roybal. He grew up in Las Vegas and spent a lot of time in Santa Fe. He has fond memories of growing up in New Mexico that included food, family, music on the Plaza and Zozobra. When asked about his home, Roybal had this to say:
“No matter how good the memories, no matter how serene the landscape, what makes home ‘Home’ is the people themselves. The men and women, who, as a community, raise the families, cook the meals, hold the festivals, play the music, live, love and embrace the land. This is what makes the Southwest home. To remember all the people back home and think of their support one cannot help but to be humbled and intensely grateful. I was blessed with a constant reminder of where I come from, the 763, the ‘Lucky Lady,’ the USS Santa Fe.”
USS Santa Fe (SSN-763) returns home to Pearl Harbor on January 28, 2014, after a six-month deployment
First Kiss: Lt. Commander Michael Lilleberg kissed his wife Tara.
First Hug: Machinist Mate First Class Jordan Crofut hugged his wife Emmalynn and daughter.
Submariners from the USS Santa Fe stepping off the ramp at Pearl Harbor.