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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. Submarine New Mexico Surfaces in Home State Photos by Rick Carver (unless otherwise indicated) On August 5th and 6th, 2014, six members of the crew of USS New Mexico, visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe as guests of the Navy League's USS New Mexico Committee. The crew was led by the submarine's Executive Officer (XO), LCDR Craig Litty, USN, of House Springs, MO, accompanied by his wife Sheila. Another member of the wardroom was L T Steven Connell, USN, the boat's Junior Officer of the Year, of Orlando FL. Enlisted men included Combat Systems Department Enlisted Advisor STSCS(SS) Raj Sodhi of Fairfax, VA; Sailor of the Quarter MM1(SS) Andrew Klink of Charlotte, NC; ET2(SS) Keith Dolecal of East Moriches, NY; and STSSN Robert Sanchez of Flagstaff, AZ. LCDR Craig Litty, USN, Executive Officer, USS New Mexico (SSN-779) Thanks to arrangements by Museum Collections Manager Rene Harris, our undersea warriors were able to visit the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe. They toured some exhibits pertaining to the battleship New Mexico and exchanged two dessert plates on loan to the Navy for two new ones. This was one of the primary missions Rene wanted to accomplish. The plates are part of a 24-piece set, each plate depicting a historical New Mexico event or scene- priceless works of art as is the entire 56-piece Tiffany silver service that once graced the wardroom of the battle-hardened USS New Mexico (BB-40) during the period 1918-1946, and later were used aboard the aircraft carriers USS Midway (CV-41) and USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) prior to being returned to the citizens of New Mexico in 1963. The Museum is now the custodian after the silver service set rode the high seas for 45 years. The two plates, depicting the End of the Santa Fe Trail and Taos Pueblo had been on loan since commissioning four years ago, had traveled 150,000 nautical miles and had broken through the ice at the North Pole. Crew observe work on dessert plate in New Mexico History Museum's conservation lab. Photo by Kate Nelson. The two new plates represent Roca del Morro- Inscription Rock and Coronado's Expedition 1540-1542 and will take their place in the wardroom of USS New Mexico (SSN-779). The crew is very proud to carry mementos of the battleship aboard the second warship named after the state. The XO and Museum Director Jon Hunner executed the annual loan agreement. Museum Marketing Manager Kate Nelson interviewed the sailors for the museum's blog. The XO, speaking about having the plates onboard, "It's one of the key things that keep us grounded. Between these plates and what the committee sends us, it keeps us very close." While in Santa Fe the sailors visited the USS Santa Fe exhibits in City Hall, conducted a walkabout on the Plaza, and met with Mayor Javier Gonzales, then enjoyed lunch at La Fonda Hotel's La Plazuela restaurant on the Plaza. USS New Mexico submariners with Mayor Gonzales (far right) That evening, the committee took the crew, dazzling in their summer whites, to Isotopes Baseball Stadium where they witnessed the Albuquerque Isotopes play the Tacoma Rainiers. But to get things started, the crew was escorted to the field where the XO threw out the first pitch using a colorful custom-printed USS New Mexico baseball, a ceremonial pitch, a bit high and wide, but an easy and souvenir for the catcher. XO, with USS New Mexico baseball in hand, being interviewed by KOAT-TV Custom-printed USS New Mexico baseball XO throws first pitch The crew stood at attention with the singer and saluted during the national anthem. At the top of the fourth inning, the sailors returned to the field for a military appreciation. Committee Vice Chair Damon Runyan was quoted as saying “I had great pride in the crew as they received a standing ovation from the baseball crowd – a real patriotic moment!” All of the crew’s participation was seen on the big screen. XO and Senior Chief Sodhi with escort just prior to going on the field for a military recognition ceremony Crew posing with Isotopes team mascot “Orbit” (wearing Sr. Chief Sodhi’s hat) Military recognition at Isotopes Park The next morning, committee chairman Dick Brown brought the uniformed crew to Albuquerque’s Raymond Murphy VA Medical Center. For the next two hours, the sailors were introduced to 15 bed-ridden veterans by Public Affairs Specialists Bill Armstrong and Liz Lawrence. The vets represented all branches of the service and each was given a USS New Mexico ballcap and challenge coin. VA hospital staff and volunteers were also given hats and coins. One local Albuquerque vet received a USS New Mexico baseball – EMC(SS) Edward Dixon, USN(Ret) – imagine our submariners coming across a submariner – instant sea stories. Retired submariner Chief Dixon with visiting sailors. Photo by Bill Armstrong Sailors visit veteran in hospital lobby. Photo by Bill Armstrong. The crew visited Bullhead Park on the 69th anniversary of the loss of USS Bullhead (SS-332), the last submarine lost during WWII and on the very day (August 6, 1945) when we dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Senior Chief Raj Sodhi was interviewed at the memorial by KOAT-TV. Crew visit USS Bullhead Memorial. Photo by Dick Brown. Sr. Chief Sodhi interviewed by KOAT-TV. Photo by Dick Brown The committee arranged a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway, at 2.7 miles, the world’s longest aerial tramway, where the sailors witnessed a parasail take off from 10,378 feet above sea level. This was followed by a committee dinner at sunset in the High Finance Restaurant. There just happened to be a table of active-duty Air Force nearby, and what followed was, as Damon called it, a tremendous feeling, as committee members and crew joined him in a toast to the airmen. “They were amazed and astounded that two tables of Navy folks would stand and toast them,” explained Damon, “Another great patriotic moment.” After dinner, the committee and submariners gathered on the lookout deck for remarks by the XO with a backdrop of sparkling city lights. LCDR Litty and wife Sheila, and Committee Vice Chair Damon Runyan and wife Michelle, atop Sandia Peak. Photo by Dick Brown. Committee representatives (L to R) Mark Schaefer and Michelle Runyan with MM1(SS) Andrew Klink, LT Steven Connell, STSSN Robert Sanchez and ET2(SS) Keith Dolecal. Photo by Dick Brown. And so ended a great visit by the crew of USS New Mexico. They returned to their homeport of Groton, CT the next day. The article below is being republished with permission from the Winter 2014 issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, a publication of the Naval Submarine League of 5025D Blacklick Rd., Annandale, VA, 22003 NAUTILUS — FROM DREAMS TO REALITY by Dick Brown, Former ETR2(SS) “What one man can conceive, another man can achieve.” — Jules Verne, 1873 “It was the skipper’s intention to surface at the North Pole, but there was no break in the ice.” — CAPT Shepherd M. Jenks, USN, Ret., Navigator, USS NAUTILUS (SSN-571) — North Pole Transit, 1958 NAUTILUS Lineage From the Greek word nautilos, meaning mariner, many vessels shared the name Nautilus, some long before the fictional Nautilus surfaced in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The first was Robert Fulton's Nautilus. His submarine design was patented in France in 1798. His prototype had a collapsible mast and sail for surface propulsion and a hand-turned propeller for underwater propulsion. Before USS NAUTILUS, there were five U.S. Navy vessels by the same name. Two were sailing ships, a 12-gun schooner, commissioned in 1803, and another schooner, commissioned in 1847 for service in the Mexican-American War. There was a Holland-class submarine prototype originally named NAUTILUS at keel-laying that became USS H-2 (SS-29) in 1911. There was USS NAUTILUS II (SP-559), a motor patrol boat, commissioned in 1917 for WWI service and there was an old diesel-electric boat, the decommissioned O-12 (SS-73), that was converted for use by the ill-fated 1931 Wilkins-Ellsworth Trans- Arctic Expedition and renamed Nautilus in honor of Jules Verne. USS NAUTILUS (SS-168), a Narwhal-class diesel boat, saw WWII action in the Battle of Midway. Due to her large size, she was outfitted as an undersea troop carrier, landing Marines in the Gilbert Islands in August 1942 and again in November 1943 and putting scouts ashore on Attu in the Aleutians in May 1943. All in all, she made fourteen war patrols. The Royal Navy had eight sailing ships, a destroyer and a submarine named NAUTILUS but that’s another story. Jules Verne’s Fictional Nautilus In 1871, Jules Verne published the French edition of Vingt Mille Lieues Sous Les Mers — the classic adventure of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus submarine. The British edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea followed two years later. Today, onboard the NAUTILUS (memorial museum) is a first edition of the novel; it was also onboard during the submarine’s historic North Pole run. Verne’s concept of a submarine was prophetic. He envisioned a high-speed, deep-diving vessel that could travel under polar ice. He saw stealth as the key to secret military operations. His submarine theme was inspired by the ongoing work of pioneer submarine designers as well as exhibits at the 1867 International Exposition in Paris where Verne witnessed progress in developing diving suits and other mechanical marvels. He was highly influenced by the discovery of electricity as well as a model of the French submarine PLONGEUR. But it was Robert Fulton’s primitive Nautilus of 1800 that inspired the name for Captain Nemo’s submarine. It naturally followed that the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine should also carry the name Nautilus. In nautical terms, a league refers to a measure of distance traveled at sea, not to a measure of operating depth. At the time of Verne’s writing, no submarine could travel one league, let alone the fabled 20,000. Regardless, as Verne’s story goes, it was deep in the Pacific where a frigate encounters a giant sea monster. During the ensuing attack, three men are thrown into the sea and promptly captured by the steel beast. The story follows their undersea adventures aboard the Nautilus, a secret electric submarine. Wandering the seas, seemingly in exile, Nemo directs Nautilus on a series of global adventures. The mythical voyage starts in Japan and crosses the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean before venturing into the Red Sea. From there it traverses the Suez Tunnel, an underwater passage connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Nautilus then visits the submerged land mass known as Atlantis, cruises in the South Atlantic and even noses up to the ice shelf in Antarctica, then reverses course, following the eastern seaboards of South and North America. The voyagers are attacked by a giant squid, walk along the sea floor with special air-breathing backpacks, and sink a marauding warship by ramming. They then cross the North Atlantic and are sucked into the Maelstrom off the coast of northern Norway. The three prisoners escape but the fate of the Nautilus and Captain Nemo remains unknown until the end of Verne’s sequel novel, The Mysterious Island. Verne’s electric-powered Nautilus displaced 1507 tons compared to our Navy’s nuclear-powered NAUTILUS displacing 4092 tons. The mythical submarine had a double hull, a length of 230 feet, a beam of 26 feet and a draft of 24 feet. The real-life NAUTILUS, with a single hull, is longer at 324 feet but nearly matches Verne’s beam and draft at 28 and 26 feet, respectively. Both had floodable tanks and hydroplanes. Where they greatly differed was in test depth—an astounding 52,490 feet for Verne’s submarine. Crew complement also differed—only 20 or so for Verne’s Nautilus compared to 116 for USS NAUTILUS. Armament was simply a sign of the times–ramming at collision speed of 50 mph for Verne’s boat, six torpedo tubes for USS NAUTILUS. Walt Disney’s first science fiction movie, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, is probably the best known of the many screen adaptations of Verne’s novel. Less than a month after release of the movie, the real captain, CDR Eugene P. Wilkinson, of the real NAUTILUS radioed “Underway on Nuclear Power”. NAUTILUS became the technological turning point in propulsion beneath the waves—the vanguard of a new age in undersea warfare. The pioneering submarine designer Simon Lake was inspired by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues. His first operational submarine sailed from Norfolk to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, a distance of 120 leagues. Oceanographers Robert Ballard, William Beebe and Jacques Cousteau were also inspired by Verne, as were CAPT Hyman G. Rickover, an immigrant from the Czar’s Russian empire, destined to become a 4-star admiral and Father of the Nuclear Navy, and an enterprising young naval officer, LT Shepherd M. Jenks. NAUTILUS Navigator When LT Shepherd Shep Jenks reported aboard USS NAUTILUS in 1956, he was originally assigned as the Engineer but then CDR William R. Anderson, Commanding Officer, made him the Navigator. It was a challenging role, especially when NAUTILUS embarked on the first-ever cruise under the North Pole. When we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the commissioning of the submarine in September 2014, Shep Jenks would have celebrated his 88th birthday. Sadly, he passed away on March 26, 2014 Shep graduated from the United States Naval Academy, class of '49. After Submarine School in 1952, he was transferred to the USS BLACKFIN (SS-322) where he qualified in submarines. He was accepted into Nuclear Power School in 1955. He served aboard NAUTILUS from 1956 to 1958. Operation Sunshine In the late 1950s, the Cold War was heating up; we were beginning to build ballistic missile submarines; the International Geophysical Year—man’s most ambitious study of his environment— was well underway; A-bombs were being detonated in the Nevada desert; and the United States was caught flat-footed when USSR launched Sputnik-I (Russian for fellow traveler) in October 1957. The launch of Sputnik-II a month later caused great concern with predictions of imminent disaster for the Free World. Of course the worry was that if the Soviets can put satellites in space, they may soon be able to fire a nuclear-armed ballistic missile at the United States. The space race was on but the U.S. program was sputtering over USSR’s sputniks, as evidenced by the embarrassing, but highly televised, launch pad explosion of Vanguard in December 1957. Reacting to the psychological impact of the Soviets placing two satellites in orbit, President Dwight Eisenhower directed the U.S. Navy to plan an undersea transit of the Arctic Ocean by the world’s first nuclear submarine. He felt such a feat would enhance the credibility of the United States. Looking back, Shep recalls, “I think the President wanted to reassert our position as a world power, but the main reason was to prove that we could transit to the North Pole by submarine.” Indeed it was most important to determine if the Arctic could be exploited to our strategic military advantage, especially in view of the emerging threat of ICBMs. Officially, the White House called for Operation Sunshine, a misleading code name to imply a mission in warm southern waters. Furthermore, a cover story was concocted on why NAUTILUS had ventured into the Pacific. She visited San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle, ostensibly to help familiarize our Pacific forces with the advantages of nuclear submarines when in reality she was on a classified mission. Navigation Challenges The senior civilian scientist on the successful transpolar voyage, Dr. Waldo Lyon, had developed an instrument to help a submarine avoid ice collisions. It worked in the reverse of a fathometer, with an upward-looking sonar transducer to map the bottom profile of the icepack. Shep is highly complimentary of his civilian counterpart, the world’s foremost authority on sea ice, “Waldo Lyon was really good at his job, very intelligent.” Besides continuous use of her sonar systems and topside fathometer, NAUTILUS also conducted CCTV and periscope observations of the underside of the icepack. At that time of the year, they had continuous daylight. And then there is the problem of magnetic compasses—they are just not reliable near the geographic pole, but instead tend to align themselves with the magnetic pole. Gyrocompasses, aligning to true north and measuring deviations from that axis, perform more reliably. But as East-West meridians or longitudinal lines converge on the pole, gyrocompasses also become erratic. The solution was the Ship’s Inertial Navigation System or SINS. Shep explained, “We had the first SINS; it was installed aboard NAUTILUS in April 1958.” It operated independently of any reference point, except for the submarine’s starting position. It was an elaborate set of electronic equipment, unlike anything then in use. With it, the navigation team, which consisted of the navigator and four enlisted quartermasters, created a virtual map of the voyage from start to finish. If NAUTILUS had depended on standard navigation equipment at the time, it could have become so confused that it risked traveling in circles or veering off on the wrong longitudinal tangent—a phenomenon the crew called longitude roulette. Although impressed with SINS, the skipper had reservations, at least initially. Being new technology, he proceeded with considerable caution, minimizing the number of changes in course, speed, angle and depth, so as not to confuse SINS. As submariners of the late 50s and 60s will remember, there was a saying about SINS: If you tell it where it is, it will tell you where you are. As unproven as it was, this revolutionary navigational tool contributed greatly to the success of the mission. Setting a Course for the North Pole As the Navy continued to gain more operational experience with its first nuclear submarines, it came time to test their capabilities in the Arctic. By early February 1957, NAUTILUS undersea warriors could boast that their submarine had already steamed 20,000 leagues under the sea. In fact, they were so giddy about the submerged endurance capabilities of nuclear submarines that some jokingly stated they planned to surface every four years to re-enlist. On August 19, 1957, NAUTILUS departed Groton on a classified mission. Ten days and a submerged run of 4000 miles later she rendezvoused with the conventional submarine USS TRIGGER (SS-564) in the north Greenland Sea. Before approaching the icepack, she practiced vertical ascents at zerospeed, and then made her first exploratory probe under the ice. At 81-degrees North latitude, NAUTILUS found open water, but overshot the mark and slammed into the ice, bending back both periscopes and damaging the leading edge of the sail. She was now optically blind, but managed to return to TRIGGER waiting at edge of the icepack. The crew, despite high seas and bad weather, straightened and repaired no. 1 scope but no. 2 was a total loss. On a second excursion under the icepack in early September, NAUTILUS reached 87-degrees North—180 miles from the North Pole—further north than any ship had ever ventured. On that run she lost both gyrocompasses and in turning back she lost her way. Surfacing was not an option. By September 6th, TRIGGER was about to report NAUTILUS past due. Happily she showed the next day. TRIGGER then made a few short runs under the icepack and Nautilus made one more on September 8th. NAUTILUS then joined NATO’s naval exercise — Operation Strikeback. Despite navigation system failures and periscope damage, NAUTILUS collected valuable scientific data on polar conditions and ocean depth for future Arctic operations. While Pentagon officials dribbled some details of the Arctic expedition to the news media, NAUTILUS ice operations were soon overshadowed by Sputnik news which in turn provided even more impetus for a transpolar voyage. In June 1958, NAUTILUS departed Seattle with top secret orders to conduct Operation Sunshine, the first crossing of the North Pole by a ship of any kind. Ten days later, she passed through the Aleutians, gateway to the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean. She transited the Bering Sea and entered the Chukchi Sea, but was forced to turn back to Pearl Harbor due to a combination of giant ice stalactites hanging above the sail and shallow water below the keel—with fifty-two feet from the top of the sail to the keel, there was not much water space left for safe submarine operations. Shep points out, “We turned around not only because of insufficient safety margin for maneuvering, but because we did not have reliable charts.” In an emergency, the skipper was prepared to use torpedoes to blast a hole in the ice if NAUTILUS, which did not have a hardened sail, needed to surface quickly. During the layover at Pearl Harbor, waiting for the Chukchi ice to thaw, Shep, posing as a DEW Line Inspector from the Pentagon, anything but a submariner, conducted many aerial reconnaissance flights over the icepack aboard a P2V, ironically, a submarine hunter operating out of Fairbanks. Shep explained, “I flew over the icepack to study the ice and look for holes.” He gathered vital information that allowed NAUTILUS to embark on a second attempt. The layover also provided an opportunity for the crew to brief our Pacific Forces at Pearl Harbor in the ways of the Nuclear Navy. In a way, the misleading mission name, Operation Sunshine, really did apply for a time, as the boat waited more than a month in warm Hawaiian waters. Shep finally observed dramatic improvements in ice conditions. It was July 23, 1958 when NAUTILUS quietly slipped away in the night, bound for the Arctic and a secret west-east transit under the North Pole. Transpolar Track CDR Anderson, well aware that Washington was anxious to make headlines, suspected that there were plans for an Atlanticside run to the pole by the nuclear submarine USS SKATE (SSN- 578)—a race of sorts to the North Pole. After all, NAUTILUS had her chance, now it was SKATE’s turn, and she would have the benefit of data collected by NAUTILUS the previous year. As it turns out, SKATE suffered propeller damage in a collision with USS FULTON (AS-11) and did not leave until July 30th. On July 27th, at a point where the 170-degrees West meridian crosses the Aleutians, NAUTILUS passed a group of volcanic islands to starboard with the name Islands of Four Mountains— seemingly ripped from one of Jules Verne’s novels. To port was Yunaska Island. Here NAUTILUS reached a new milestone, having now traveled 40,000 leagues. NAUTILUS threaded her way through the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska where the depth averaged a mere twenty fathoms. The crew was not too worried about being detected by the Soviets. According to Shep, “We were sure they did not patrol that area.” Now in the shallow Chukchi Sea and just above the Arctic Circle, NAUTILUS surfaced and spent two days searching for deep water at the edge of the icepack along Alaska’s northern coast. Just off Point Barrow on August 1st, NAUTILUS submerged, turned due North and started her long historic run to the geographic North Pole. This was a straight run under the ice along the 155-degrees West meridian through uncharted waters. Shep explains that they were able to do some mapping of the ocean floor, “That was one of the reasons we made the trip. I don’t remember discovering any underwater mountain ranges or canyons. It was basically a flat bottom.” Actually, bathymetric readings across the Arctic Basin showed depths plunging to 2100 fathoms between 72 and 74-degrees North latitude, then depths ranging between 500 and 2000 fathoms to the Pole. Shep was rather surprised about their soundings in the Arctic Basin. “It was very deep!” he recalled. Admittedly, there were some underwater mountain ridges that rose quite suddenly, giving pause to the quartermasters hovering over the plotter and causing the officer of the deck to order reduced speed. About 1000 yards from the Pole, the skipper addressed the crew on the 1MC: “All hands, this is the Captain speaking, in a few moments NAUTILUS will realize a goal long sought by those who have sailed the seas . . . standby, 10, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1, mark — for the USA and the U.S. Navy—the North Pole!” The submarine reached 90-degrees North latitude at 11:15 pm (EDT) on August 3, 1958 but continued her arrow-straight course along the 155- degree meridian, now headed due south. Shep reports, “It was the skipper’s intention to surface at the North Pole, but there was no break in the ice.” As tempting as it was, the skipper decided not to risk confusing his navigation gear by looking for a place to surface. As NAUTILUS zoomed under the Pole at 20 knots and 400 feet, the fathometer measured the depth at 2235 fathoms or 13,410 feet! Shep does not remember any celebration when they reached the Pole, probably because he was busy in the control room, but the skipper read a letter he had composed for the President to ship’s company crowded into the crew’s mess. In the back of his mind, the skipper worried that SKATE could have reached the pole before them and was on her way back. There was no way of knowing. It is interesting to note, while NAUTILUS crossed under the pole, a half-century earlier, RADM Robert Peary, USN crossed over the pole. He traveled over the pack ice by dogsled and reached the geographic North Pole on April 6, 1909. After another day, NAUTILUS adjusted her southerly course to follow along the Greenwich Meridian into the Greenland Sea. By August 5th she was proceeding south between the northern extremities of Greenland and Spitzbergen. After traveling 1830 miles under the ice, NAUTILUS finally surfaced northeast of Greenland to radio CNO Admiral Arleigh Burke a simple but historic message “NAUTILUS 90 North”. On August 7th, between Iceland and Greenland, NAUTILUS passed SKATE heading north. Five days later, SKATE reached the pole and surfaced in a polynya (area of thin ice or open water), becoming the first to break through the icepack at the North Pole. Meanwhile, NAUTILUS angled southwesterly through the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland and made a slight jog toward Reykjavik so that the skipper could board a helicopter and make his way to Washington where he participated in a press conference and a briefing for President Eisenhower on the success of Operation Sunshine. During the White House visit, an event that inadvertently failed to invite RADM Rickover, CDR Anderson was awarded the Legion of Merit by the President for pioneering a “Northwest Passage”, albeit, a submerged sea-lane, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Later, the entire crew was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the first peacetime bestowing of such honors. Meantime, with Executive Officer LCDR Frank Adams in command, NAUTILUS made a beeline for the British Isles where the skipper rejoined his boat. An Extraordinary Naval Career Shep, by then a rising star in the Submarine Force, was the commissioning engineer on USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN-598) in 1959 and onboard during the first Polaris ballistic missile firing. He was second in his PCO class; his good friend and NAUTILUS shipmate LT John W. Harvey finished first and was assigned as CO of the USS THRESHER (SSN-593). Unfortunately, Wes Harvey perished when THRESHER went down with all hands on April 10, 1963. Shep became the CO of USS SKIPJACK (SSN-585) in 1963, CO of Nuclear Power Training Unit at West Milton, NY in 1964, CO of USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (SSBN-602) in 1968 and CO of the submarine tender FULTON in 1970. He retired in 1971 with the rank of Captain. 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. 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 then moved to Vallejo, California. As an aside, this past March, the Groton-based USS NEW MEXICO (SSN-779) participated with the San Diego-based USS HAMPTON (SSN-767) in ICEX 2014. Such Arctic exercises help prepare our Submarine Force for a wide range of operations in a most challenging environment. The base of operations for ICEX 2014 was Ice Camp Nautilus, 200 miles north of Prudhoe Bay. ICEX 2014 assures continued access to the Arctic region and hones the skills of our submarine crews as they transit between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Epilogue CDR Bill Anderson, whose strength was in giving his shipmates all the credit, considered the work of Shep and his team to be the most remarkable piece of nautical navigation ever accomplished. In the absence of nautical charts, taking star sightings, shooting bearings on landmarks, exchanging electronic transmissions, or viewing what lay ahead through a window like Verne’s NAUTILUS, the first submerged Arctic crossing was indeed remarkable. Years later, Shep reflected, “Our navigation team, by the grace of God, had individual personalities and gifts that perfectly fit the challenge we had on each of the voyages north”. Jules Verne once wrote “My readers are my passengers and my duty is to ensure that they are properly treated during the voyage and satisfied on their return”. Shep shared this sentiment. Safety of the crew was paramount and his careful navigation under the ice led to the safe return of NAUTILUS. Polaris—the North Star—that holds steady as the northern skies circle around it, has guided sailors across the oceans for centuries. While Polaris was not available to assist Shep and his team, it was there in spirit, and it continued to play a significant role in Shep’s naval career—first Polaris ballistic missile submarine—first Polaris missile firing—first Polaris strategic deterrent patrol. CAPT Shepherd Jenks—a legend in the submarine community—saw dreams of early science fiction become a real-life ocean-to-ocean journey beneath the North Pole. Note: The author thanks CAPT Shepherd Jenks, USN, Ret. for his valuable contributions to this article. Other contributors include Al Cole, Vice Commander of USSVI’s Mare Island Base, who served aboard USS TINOSA (SSN-606), USS SKIPJACK (SSN-585) and as COB on USS SEAWOLF (SSN-575); LCDR Ray Raczek, USN, Ret. who was the Reactor Control Division Chief aboard NAUTILUS on the 1957 polar run; and NAUTILUS Plankowner LCDR Tom Brames, USN, Ret. About the Author: Dick Brown served when our Submarine Force was transitioning from diesel- electric to nuclear propulsion and from Regulus to Polaris missile strategic deterrent patrols. He qualified on USS BARBERO (SSG-317) while on patrol in the Bering Sea, and was on the launch crew for the nuclear-tipped Regulus cruise missiles that BARBERO carried. He made four patrols on USS LAFAYETTE (SSBN-616) as a member of the Reactor Control Division. He currently chairs the Navy League’s USS NEW MEXICO Committee. Nautical chart showing the west-to-east transpolar track by USS NAUTILUS in 1958, signed by most of ship’s company plus four civilian engineers and scientists. Cooks aboard USS New Mexico visit Mesilla for tasty Mexican food recipes By James Staley / permission to reprint Las Cruces Sun-News article received Monday, August 11, 2014 from James Staley (phone: 575-541-5476) email@example.com@auguststaley on Twitter POSTED: 08/08/2014 05:58:58 PM MDT Chief Petty Officer Glyn Ashley, left, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Deven Nichols, center, are directed by Mayra Sierra, La Posta de Mesilla cook, in the restaurant´s kitchen on Friday. The two sailors are learning to cook about 20 recipes and will be sharing with their shipmates aboard the USS New Mexico -- a nuclear-powered Virginia class submarine. (Robin Zielinski — Sun-News) MESILLA >> The food he ate during all his years of service in the Navy doesn't stand out to Tom Hutchinson. "I can promise you this, the food is much better now," said Hutchinson, a former aviator who retired as a captain in 2002. He's working to ensure it stays that way. This week Hutchinson, who owns the famed La Posta de Mesilla, guided two submariners from the USS New Mexico through his restaurant, giving them a behind-the-scenes look at how Mexican food is traditionally prepared in the region. "This is going to really work to improve the quality of all our food," said Chief Petty Officer Glyn Ashley, 31, who oversees food service aboard the nuclear submarine. Tom Hutchinson, La Posta de Mesilla owner, looks at a model of the USS New Mexico displayed in the restaurant on the Mesilla Plaza. In 2009 the submarine's galley was named after La Posta de Mesilla, called La Posta Abajo de Mar (La Posta Under the Sea). (Robin Zielinski — Sun-News) Ashley and Petty Officer 3rd Class Deven Nichols, 21, sat in La Posta just after lunch on Friday, speaking fondly of the fajitas and chile rellenos they tasted. They plan to take techniques and ideas learned this week to spice up the submarine's weekly Taco Tuesday. This week was the first time they set foot in La Posta, but their submarine's galley bears the restaurant's name. It won a statewide contest in 2010, before the submarine was commissioned. Hutchinson also took the submariners to Chavez Farms, where La Posta buys its chile, and to Young Guns Produce in Hatch, so they could learn more about the beloved local crop. Nichols, the head cook from Dallas, said he was impressed with the way La Posta prepares its chile. He hopes to enroll in culinary school after he gets out the service. Ashley, from Greenville, S.C., said he absorbed a lot of operational knowledge from Hutchinson, who has owned La Posta with his wife since 1996. The tourist spot has been open for 75 years as a restaurant. Hutchinson said the submariners learned about 20 dishes during their time in Doña Ana County. He said about a dozen Navy personnel have come through La Posta's kitchen in the past few years to learn Mexican food cooking. They come thanks to funding by the Navy League's New Mexico Council, a nonprofit group that supports sailors. Ashley said he's grateful for the support he and his fellow crew members have received from New Mexicans. He said it was "far above" the backing he experienced from other states when he was aboard vessels named for them. Another group is in Albuquerque, he said. James Staley can be reached at 575-541-5476. Petty Officer 3rd Class Deven Nichols stirs ground beef on Friday at La Posta. Nichols is taking knowledge of about 20 recipes back to his shipmates aboard the USS New Mexico. (Robin Zielinski — Sun-News) USS New Mexico Chief Petty Officer Glyn Ashley pushes forward a combination plate from the serving window in the La Posta kitchen on Friday. Ashley is learning to cook about 20 recipes and will be sharing with his shipmates aboard the USS New Mexico. (Robin Zielinski — Sun-News) 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. 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. ” http://on.wsj.com/1iPvGCO http://on.wsj.com/1l1RGcX 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 Davis 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. 3/27/2014 9:11:00 AM By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Julianne Metzger, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs 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. March 25, 2014 There's news all over the Internet on ICEX 2014 and the closing of Ice Camp Nautilus. Here's two really cool Navy photos of "our" sub released through AP. In this March 22 photo provided by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard USS New Mexico tie mooring lines after the submarine surfaced through the arctic ice at Ice Camp Nautilus, north of Alaska. Cracks in polar sea ice prompted the Navy to break down the camp that provided support for ICEX 2014. The commander of submarine forces ordered an early end to Ice Camp Nautilus because shifts in winds created instabilities in ice floes. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Joshua Davies) Note USS New Mexico in background of this March 22 photo provided by the U.S. Navy, surfaced near Ice Camp Nautilus. U.S. NAVY, JOSHUA DAVIES — AP Photo Some DVs made it. Among the weekend visitors to the camp was U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine. He landed Saturday in a single-engine airplane and toured the USS New Mexico, which had burst through polar ice. King stayed onboard the submarine for 20 hours, observing as it dove to 500 feet and broke back through the ice. February 14, 2014 The crew of USS NEW MEXICO has just endured several weeks of family separation, at-sea evolutions in extremely bad weather, training new guys to meet exacting standards...yet in the message below the Commanding Officer, CDR Todd Moore, mentions how we back here in sunny New Mexico inspire pride in the crew. Most assuredly it is the other way around. Greetings from sea! from CDR Todd Moore. USS NEW MEXICO is on the surface once again, about to conclude a four-week at-sea period of great successes. Our operations began on 21 January, when we cast off lines in a blinding snowstorm. Leaving our wives behind to shovel the driveways, we left Groton and headed out through Long Island Sound. Fortunately, the heavy snow, sub-freezing temperatures, and 30-knot winds kept all the little guys off the water and we drove free of interference out to our dive point. That's not to say our surfaced transit was not without incident. As you know, we have had about 20% crew turnover since our last deployment and have a lot of green hands about. Many of them were not prepared for life in a steel tube rolling amidst 12-foot breaking seas. They are now! (At least most of them have got their sea legs.) We dove as soon as we could and immediately began the training, drills, and evolutions that make a crew into a fighting team. Alternating between days of classroom training and days practicing fire, flooding, and various other calamities, we have steadily built the proficiency of Team NEW MEXICO. In the process, many Sailors have qualified new watch stations, we've had a few reenlistments, and I've had the pleasure to hand out several awards for outstanding service. As I type this, we are headed back to port for a little R&R and to load the boat out again. The skills our crew has built up over the past four weeks will be put to the test very soon as USS NEW MEXICO heads out on a mini-deployment. While I can't go into the details of our upcoming operations, know that New Mexico will be well represented in some very high profile events.. The next time I write you, I'll have a lot to talk about! Once again, thanks to you and the great USS NEW MEXICO Committee. Your hospitality, generosity, and interest continue to inspire tremendous and deserved pride amongst my crew. Best regards, CDR Todd Moore Commanding Officer USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779) February 7, 2014 Not long ago, first graders at Comanche Elementary School in Albuquerque wrote brief letters, accompanied by artwork, to the crew of USS New Mexico. These six and seven-year olds of Renee Ortega's and Marvin Callahan's classes studied the submarine's website in class before composing their messages to the crew and before developing their priceless works of art. The kids now await answers from the individual members of the crew. Renee Ortega is the daughter of Joyce Pullen, Navy League board member and former chief of staff for 6-term US Senator Pete Domenici who helped get the names Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and New Mexico for our three namesake fast-attack submarines. Below is a sampling of one-liners and colorful drawings from the batch of 48 letters. Thank you for protecting our country - Phineas Thank you for saving the world - Sarit Do you ixplor (explore) the oshin (ocean)? Thank you for being brave - Kylee Why do you go on a submarine? - Myah Is it scary or fun? - Alyssa Is it scary down there? - Leland Do you move slow or fast? - Cruz Are any Navy Seals on board? - Ian Following nuclear power and submarine officer training, Lieutenant Commander Litty reported aboard USS SAN FRANCISCO (SSN 711) and served as the Chemistry and Radiological Controls Assistant and the Damage Control Assistant. His second sea tour was as the Engineer Officer, USS BUFFALO (SSN 715). Ashore, Lieutenant Commander Litty served as the Aide to Commander, US Naval Forces Marianas in Agana, Guam and as the Engineer Officer of Submarine Squadron FIFTEEN. In December 2011, Lieutenant Commander Litty reported to US Naval War College as a student where he graduated with distinction, completing a Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. He also served as the US representative in Class 82 of the Naval Staff College. Following completion of the Submarine Command Course Lieutenant Commander Litty reported as Executive Officer aboard USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779) in December 2012. Lieutenant Commander Litty is a recipient of various personal and campaign awards including the Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4 awards), the Army Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 awards). Lieutenant Commander Litty is married to Sheila Litty of Cedar Hill, MO, and resides in Westerly, RI. His son Alex Litty attends the University of Missouri at Rolla, and his daughter Chelsea attends Michigan State University. December 17, 2013 Dear Navy League New Mexico Council 779 Committee, Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Sorry to have been out of communication for a while, but we had a (relatively) emergent underway. U.S. Fleet Forces ordered NEW MEXICO underway the Sunday after Thanksgiving to participate in the certification of the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH Expeditionary Strike Group. While it was a little tough to pull ourselves from our families on a holiday weekend, the crew really came through. We got underway with typical NEW MEXICO flair and charged out to sea to show our stuff. We also had a chance to embark riders from our parent squadron, Submarine Development Squadron TWELVE, who watched how we do business, were duly impressed, and certified us "Ready for Tasking". (That means we have recovered from the post-deployment crew turnover and are beginning the pre-deployment training period.) We also embarked the Commodore, CAPT Vern Parks, for a ride back up to Groton. Hope your weather is warmer than ours! --Todd The opportunity to be a part of the USS New Mexico homecoming was a privilege and an honor. Being able to photograph the event was even better. I must acknowledge the assistance from COMSUBRON 4, Public Affairs, the Family Readiness Group and the New Mexico Ombudsman. I must also give thanks to Commander George Perez and the crew of the USS New Mexico for allowing me to ride the boat into the sub base. I attended this homecoming representing the USS New Mexico Committee and the Navy League New Mexico Council. Arrangements were made through COMSUBRON4 to ride one of the tugs out to meet the New Mexico at the mouth of the Thames River. Past the Nautilus Museum, beyond the Interstate 95 Bridge, beyond the Coast Guard Academy and past the Electric Boat Division we headed to open water. Through the mist and haze the shape of the USS New Mexico appeared. As we got closer I could see the flags of the United States, and New Mexico. Once we made our approach I transferred to the New Mexico leaving the tug, John Wronowski behind. I eventually made my way up to the bridge and was greeted by CDR Perez and CDR Todd Moore soon to be the next CO of 779. As we passed under the I-95 Bridge we were greeted by a canon salute provided by a local submarine veteran’s group. Approaching the Groton Sub Base we were greeted by blasts from the horns of other submarines including the USS California and the USS Providence. Just outside the Pier 31 gate, some 300 family members waited patiently as the New Mexico finally docked. The crew in their dress whites lined the deck and waited for the all clear. The families once on the pier waited for the traditional “first kiss” followed by the rest of the crew. The initial hugs and kisses lasted about an hour or so, and one by one they began to vanish for some real reunion time. The many photos are meant to support this short article celebrating the homecoming of the USS New Mexico from its first deployment. 779 performed its mission with great efficiency. The USS New Mexico was commissioned in March 2010 at the Norfolk Navy Base in Virginia. She is a Virginia Class Nuclear Attack Submarine. May 15, 2013 Friends and Families of NEW MEXICO, As we near the middle of our first deployment, I take pleasure in reporting that your ship and crew have performed exceptionally since departing Groton, CT in February. While I cannot go into the specifics, I can provide some general insights. First and foremost has been the resiliency of the crew to keep NEW MEXICO on the front lines, often with heroic efforts on the deckplates. As you might imagine, operating the most complex warship ever built by man in one of the harshest environments on the planet does not come without the occasional material issue. We have had our share on NEW MEXICO but in every case, the men onboard have either worked tirelessly to correct the problem, or they have implemented mitigating measures to maintain our operational capability. These efforts were instrumental in allowing NEW MEXICO to meet ALL operational tasking on time with NO reduction in capability. It has truly been inspiring to watch your sailors in action doing what they have trained their entire careers for - operating this warship at sea. Life at sea has been challenging, particularly for those not used to extended operations without the ability to communicate with friends and family. This is probably equally if not more challenging for those at home. As difficult as it is, all of the sailors onboard understand and appreciate the need for such a strict communications posture. I can only encourage those of you at home to continue to reach out to your sailors as often as you possibly can using Sailormail and FAMILY GRAMS. If you are not familiar with these tools, please contact the OMBUDSMAN for assistance. I cannot stress enough how meaningful it is to your sailors when they receive communications from home. Your efforts in this area do not go unappreciated even though it may be months before you receive a reply based solely on the nature of our operations. In other areas, we've had our share of challenges. As you can imagine, running out of crunchy peanut butter and bacon were crisis situations that had to be managed properly. Timely intervention by some of our Chief Petty Officers was able to mitigate the impact of these near catastrophic events. Qualifications have been superb as nearly every division onboard has made huge gains in this area. The long periods at sea have provided ample opportunities to excel in this area for every sailor onboard. On the liberty front, as we enjoy our third port call, the crew has enjoyed the exposure to new cultures that can only be experienced with a port call in a foreign port. Many of our sailors joined the Navy to see the world, and for the first time in many of their careers, they are getting that opportunity. Their conduct ashore has been exemplary and I assure you that their role as ambassadors of the United States and the Navy is in very capable hands... As we complete this port call, our preparations for the second half of deployment are rapidly coming to a close. The few material items requiring assistance from the home front have all been resolved. Food stores have been topped off with the final stores load yesterday. Critical spare parts have been received, communications with friends and family have been reestablished, and everything is going well. We've transferred off our few augmentees and received a handful of new personnel. Now, with everything in place, we will again take our position on the front line. In closing, I can assure you that NEW MEXICO's reputation has only grown since our arrival in theater. The performance of the ship and crew has been outstanding and I have every confidence that the legacy we have established will remain with NEW MEXICO for decades to come. Of course, we could not do what we do without your continued support of the ship, the crew, and the families at home. Thank you! Warmest Regards CDR George Perez Commanding Officer USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779) National Recognition for La Posta de Mesilla by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee Photos courtesy Rick Carver May 8, 2013 USA Today has included La Posta de Mesilla, just days before Cinco de Mayo, on its list of the top ten Mexican restaurants in the nation. Housed in an 18th-century adobe building, La Posta is a historic landmark and is widely known for its enchiladas, carne adovada and other traditional New Mexican dishes. This national recognition is doubly important because the Hutchinson’s have adopted the galley aboard USS New Mexico. It is affectionately known to our undersea warriors as “La Posta Abajo del Mar” or “La Posta Beneath the Sea.” The submarine’s culinary specialists have been trained at La Posta in New Mexico cuisine, in fact, every other Tuesday onboard is Fajita Tuesday. When the culinary specialists complete their qualifications onboard, the Supply Officer gives them a La Posta hat as an award of sorts. The La Posta-submarine connection does not stop there as the restaurant gift shop offers all sorts of USS New Mexico memorabilia and there is a 2-foot model of the submarine permanently anchored in the restaurant lobby. Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo to commemorate a military victory, but in the USA, the day is a great excuse to head out for tacos, margaritas and other Mexican favorites. In order of closest proximity to Mexico, here is the top ten: La Posta de Mesilla, NM Café Poco Casa, Tucson, AZ Las Casuelas Terraza, Palm Springs, CA Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen, Houston, TX Nachomama's Tex-Mex, St. Louis, MO Panchero's Mexican Grill, Iowa City, IA Alma Cocina, Atlanta, GA Uncle Julio's Hacienda, Chicago, IL Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Washington, DC Rosa Mexicano, New York, NY Congratulations to La Posta de Mesilla, clearly one of the best Mexican restaurants in the nation, and as locals have always known, the place for true New Mexico cuisine. USS New Mexico (SSN-779) and USS New Mexico (BB-40) Featured in La Cronica de Nuevo Mexico by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee April 2, 2013 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 ! FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 7, 2013 Contact: Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee (505)238-1584 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 . USS New Mexico CO and Chief of the Boat Visit Namesake State By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs, navy.mil Photos courtesy of Rick Carver January 31, 2013 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 /. This story is based on information provided by Major Josh Vance, a KC-130 pilot with the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, VA, and Dan Farnham, a Navy veteran living and working on Kwajalein, Republic of Marshall Islands. The Marshall Islands extend over 600 miles of the South Pacific and include Kwajalein Atoll, one of the world's largest coral reefs enclosing a lagoon. USS New Mexico (BB-40), having left Pearl Harbor on January 22, 1944, arrived off Kwajalein Atoll for the pre-invasion battering of the Japanese scheduled to start on January 31st. This was part of Operation Flintlock, with the 4th Marine Division in the north at Roi-Namur and the 7th Army Infantry Division in the south at Kwajalein. USS Idaho (BB-42) and USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) were also part of Operation Flintlock. While shelling Ebeye and Kwajalein, New Mexico suffered her first casualty of the war. BB-40 Kingfisher float plane BB-40 Naval Aviation Division 1943-1944 Two Kingfisher spotter float planes from New Mexico were sent buzzing over embattled Kwajalein, their skilled pilots and radiomen relaying vital topographical information and target locations to the ship's gunners. At 1522, an OS2N-1 Kingfisher piloted by LTjg Forney O. Fuqua, USNR, with Radioman Second Class Harrison D. Miller in the rear cockpit, was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire from Ebeye. Fuqua radioed his ship: "Cockpit full of gasoline fumes . . . hit very badly . . . am making emergency landing . . ." Mortally wounded, Fuqua instructed Miller to bail out. Instead, Miller took over the controls and attempted to bring the crippled plane down to the surface of Kwajalein's giant lagoon. With no prior flying experience, no instruments and only an emergency control stick, Miller succeeded in making a water landing. By Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee As the keynote speaker at the New Mexico Council’s July 21, 2012 fundraiser, Dr. Harrison Schmitt presenting a fascinating account of his time on the moon. He and Gene Cernan of Apollo 17 were the last two men to walk on the moon. Photo by Rick Carver. Commander, Fleet Cyber Command and Commander 10th Fleet Vice Adm. Michael Rogers boards USS New Mexico on July 26, 2012 during a visit to Navy Information Operations Detachment at SUBASE New London. US Navy Photo With a capacity crowd in attendance, CDR George Perez, Jr., commanding officer, USS New Mexico and 15 members of the crew attended the Yankees vs. Texas Rangers game at Yankee Stadium on August 15, 2012. They were recognized on the team's Jumbotron in the middle of the third and fifth innings. Photo by the boat’s EMC (a Red Sox fan). Master Chief Bill Lamb, former New Mexico EDMC (Bull Nuke), retired from the Navy on September 19, 2012. He had the honor of having several New Mexico shipmates at his retirement ceremony, including Capt. Rob Dain (former CO779) as his presiding officer to send him ashore. Also on hand was CDR Stan Stewart (former XO779), who did a great job of reading Old Glory during Bill’s Passing the Flag ceremony, plus ETC Jeff Keep, MMC Dustin Clark and ETCS Dennis Mitchell. Navy Leaguer Phelps White of Roswell, on right, and Phelps Anderson help celebrate New Mexico’s Centennial during a "Block Party" at the Roswell Museum & Art Center with a model of USS New Mexico. On October 4, 2012, they "launched" USS New Mexico and SS Roswell Victory ship at a Rotary Club meeting in celebration of the Navy's 237th birthday, sang Anchors Away, and RADM/Senator Bill Payne gave a stirring speech about the submarine and national defense. The USS New Mexico with submarine posters and brochures were then put on display at the Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico, and soon the boat will be moored in a bank lobby, before "cruising" down the Pecos River to Carlsbad. Leo Davis and Dick Brown at WSMR Headquarters with a model of battleship New Mexico, built by Brony Szymber in 1933-1935. Photo by FTCS Ray Watson, WSMR Naval Detachment Leo Davis, combat submarine veteran, at podium describing WWII torpedo problems and solutions, during WSMR’s Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Navy birthday celebration on October 12, 2012. Photo by Jose Salazar, WSMR L to R, Millie Woods, president of Military Appreciation Weekend Center in Ruidoso; Dick Brown, Leo Davis and RDML Paul Arthur of Las Cruces. Photo by Jose Salazar, WSMR Traditional cake-cutting by the oldest sailor, Leo Davis, and the youngest sailor, Petty Officer Jenna Watts. Photo by Jose Salazar, WSMR USS New Mexico Sailor Receives IDC Of The Year Award By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs From Navy.mil on Sat 11/10/12 GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- An Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) aboard the Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) was recognized as the Submarine Independent Duty Corpsman of the Year for 2012 at a command awards ceremony in Groton. Chief Hospital Corpsman (SS) Retroyreo Conner was named IDC of the year for 2012 earlier this year, but was later presented the award in October due to the submarine's underway schedule. "It was a total surprise I can honestly say that," said Conner. "I have a great crew and I can say that I received this recognition based on their stellar performance and support of me." The IDC of the year award is also presented to a surface and shore IDC annually. Last year, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SS) Aaron P. McKnight, who was assigned to USS Toledo (SSN 769), was the recipient of the award, which is presented annually to enlisted medical professionals who have significantly contributed to the combat readiness and overall health of Sailors aboard submarines. "Chief Conner's dedication to the health and well-being of the New Mexico crew, his constant drive to help those around him achieve success, and his positive, infectious attitude makes him an inspiration to every Sailor onboard. He is, without a doubt, one of the finest Sailors I have ever had the privilege of serving with in my 26-year career," said Cmdr. George Perez, commanding officer, USS New Mexico. Conner, who has served in the Navy for 14 years, said his tour aboard New Mexico marked his first IDC tour and first submarine. During his three-year tour Conner said one of his highlights was learning and qualifying to pilot the submarine. "Serving as the IDC for the past three years has been career enhancing for me personally because you are truly an independent duty corpsman when the submarine is at sea," said Conner. "You are the sole provider for your crew and assisting with their medical needs allows me to keep sharp on my medical knowledge mainly because every medical case isn't always the same." In addition to receiving IDC of the Year, Conner was also pinned chief petty officer in September. "This award and my performance aboard USS New Mexico definitely contributed to [my] pinning on chief petty officer this year," said Conner. In order to qualify as an independent duty corpsman, IDCs attend 18-months of training at both Naval Undersea Medical Institute and Naval Submarine School. To qualify as an IDC, Conner took a variety of training at NUMI consisting of clinical patient care, laboratory, pharmacy and general preventive medicine. USS New Mexico Sailors Participate In Namesake Visit By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs From Navy.mil on Sat 10/20/12 USS New Mexico submariners, L to R, Supply Officer LTjg Justin Will; Engineering Officer LCDR Chris Blais; Chief of the Boat ETCM(SS) Steve Fritzler; and Fire Control Division Leader FTC(SS) Frank Saviano. In the hand of LCDR Blais is a piece of steel that broke off USS New Mexico (BB-40) when a Japanese suicide plane slammed into her superstructure. 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. Submariners discuss deep history behind state's vessels October 17, 2012 by Dianne Stallings Reposted from Ruidoso News Leo Davis, 90, discusses torpedo problems during World War II with local author and rancher Bob Johnson during a reception at Bill Pippin Real Estate in Ruidoso. As the oldest sailor at the Navy birthday ceremony Friday at White Sands Missile Range, Davis cut a cake with the youngest sailor, one of 24 desert sailors stationed at the range. (Dianne Stallings/Ruidoso News) 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. History 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. USS NEW MEXICO SSN-779 and New Mexico Statehood September 19, 2012 By Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee 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". These special collectibles are for sale; one can place an order by contacting the committee through this website. USS NEW MEXICO Hosts Sub Force Change of Command September 7, 2012 by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee For the COMSUBFOR Change of Command ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk on September 7, 2012, USS NEW MEXICO (SSN-779) was moored at Pier 12 to serve as the host platform. A special onboard stage was mounted just aft of her sail where the brow connected to her starboard side. It displayed the Sub Force command crest against a blue background and patriotic bunting decorated the platform and brow. The crowd of 800, including ship's company, was sheltered under a white tent on the pier. According to COMSUBLANT Deputy PAO Kevin Copeland, "NEW MEXICO rocked !" ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- The crew of Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) visited the U.S. Naval Academy, Aug. 31 - Sept. 3, to provide awareness of the undersea platform to future naval leaders. "It's exciting to show some of the future leaders of our Navy and Marine Corps one of the most sophisticated and advanced warships in the world, which some of them may end up serving on," said Lt. Joel Holwitt, navigator, USS New Mexico. Despite returning to his alma mater, Holwitt missed the opportunity to see the season opener of Academy football, when the Blue and Gold squared off against Notre Dame Sept. 1 in Dublin at the Emerald Isle Classic. Holwitt is one of two U.S. Naval Academy graduates currently serving aboard the attack submarine. Graduating in 2003, Holwitt reflected on sharing the proud history and heritage of the Academy with the crew. "The Naval Academy remains one of the best things that ever happened to me, and I am thrilled to be able to share some of that positive experience with my shipmates on board USS New Mexico," said Holwitt. The last Groton-assigned boat to visit the U.S. Naval Academy was the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Alexandria (SSN 757). The attack submarine visited the capital city in Maryland Oct. 21-22 for the USNA's homecoming game. NEW YORK (NNS) -- Sixteen USS New Mexico (SSN 779) Sailors were recognized at a New York Yankees game in New York, Aug. 15. With a capacity crowd in attendance, Cmdr. George Perez, Jr., commanding officer, USS New Mexico and 15 Sailors assigned to the Virginia-class submarine attended the Yankees vs. Texas Rangers game and were recognized by the Major League Baseball team on the team's Jumbotron in the middle of the third and fifth innings. "Attending the game is an outstanding morale-building event for the New Mexico," said Perez. "The officers and crew of USS New Mexico are sincerely grateful for the opportunity to represent the submarine force at the game." Perez also thanked local Connecticut businessman John Ranelli, chairman and CEO of Woolrich, Inc., and a former submariner for providing the opportunity to attend the Yankees game, as well as the New York Yankees. Executive Officer - LCDR Michael Grubb USS NEW MEXICO Executive Officer, LCDR Michael Grubb The Executive Officer is Lieutenant Commander Michael Grubb. LCDR Grubb, a native of Southampton, New York, graduated from the University of Michigan in 2000 with a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and was commissioned through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC). Following nuclear power and submarine officer training, Lieutenant Commander Grubb reported aboard USS MIAMI (SSN 755) in October 2001 and served as the Chemistry and Radiological Controls Assistant and the Communications Officer. During his tour MIAMI completed a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf, as well as a surge deployment to the North Atlantic Ocean. Following his tour on MIAMI, in August 2004 Lieutenant Commander Grubb reported to the staff of Destroyer Squadron Twenty Two in Norfolk, Virginia. Serving as the staff Submarine Operations Officer, his tour included a deployment to the Arabian Gulf embarked on USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. In February 2006 Lieutenant Commander Grubb reported to the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he earned a Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies and completed Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase I. From September 2007 to October 2009 Lieutenant Commander Grubb served as the Engineering Officer aboard USS PENNSYLVANIA (SSBN 735)(BLUE). During this time PENNSYLVANIA (BLUE) completed three strategic deterrent patrols and earned the 2008 COMSUBRON 17 Battle Efficiency Award. In October 2009 Lieutenant Commander was assigned to the Naval Reactors Line Locker in Washington, DC, where he served as the Technical Assistant for S8G, S9G, and prototype reactor plants. Following completion of the Submarine Command Course Lieutenant Commander Grubb reported as Executive Officer aboard USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779) in March 2012. Lieutenant Commander Grubb is single and resides in Mystic, CT. Chief of the Boat - Steven B. Fritzler, ETCM(SS) The Chief of the Boat is Steven B. Fritzler, ETCM(SS). Master Chief Fritzler was raised in Worland, Wyoming and enlisted in the Navy 12 July 1988. He completed Recruit Training in Great Lakes and Radioman “A” School in Groton, Connecticut. Master Chief Fritzler’s sea duty assignments include USS SAN JUAN (SSN 751), USS ANNAPOLIS (SSN 760) and USS NEW HAMPSHIRE (SSN 778). His shore duty assignments included Naval Submarine School and on the staff of Commander Submarine Squadron 4. Master Chief Fritzler first qualified in submarines in 1991 on board the USS SAN JUAN. During this tour he was advanced to RM1 and completed two deployments to the North Atlantic. Following his tour on USS SAN JUAN he reported to Naval Submarine School where he earned the Master Training Specialist certification and was advanced to Chief Petty Officer. His follow-on assignment was the USS ANNAPOLIS, where he served as the Navigation Operations Department Enlisted Advisor, Communications Division Leading Petty Officer and advanced to Senior Chief Petty Officer. During this tour he completed one deployment to the Mediterranean. Upon completion of his tour on USS ANNAPOLIS he was assigned to the staff of Commander Submarine Squadron 4 where he served as the Communications Assistant from 2004 to 2007. He then reported to the commissioning crew as the 3M Coordinator on board the USS NEW HAMPSHIRE. During this tour the NEW HAMPSHIRE deployed to AFRICOM and was the first Virginia-Class to complete an overseas deployment. Master Chief Fritzler returned to Commander Submarine Squadron 4 where he served as the Communications Assistant from 2010 to 2012. Master Chief Fritzler reported to USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779) in August 2012 and is currently serving as the Chief of the Boat.
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On August 5th and 6th, 2014, six members of the crew of USS New Mexico, visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe as guests of the Navy League's USS New Mexico Committee.