Submarines are fascinating — well, I’ve always enjoyed studying big naval vessels like submarines, aircraft carriers and battleships. Touring museum ships like the USS Missouri, USS Massachusetts, USS Intrepid, USS Hornet, HMS Belfast, SS Jeremiah O’Brien, USS Pampanito, USS Constitution, and many other ships have created powerful memories. Of course, the monument to the USS Arizona is the most moving of them all.
What about active-duty ships? I’ve visited a few, but never a nuclear attack submarine. Last I checked, it’s hard to get a guided tour. But you can come close with the wonderful Web site about the USS New Hampshire, SSN-778, which will be commissioned on October 25.
According to the the publicist for the USSNH site,
The USS New Hampshire, a 337-foot, 7,800-ton Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, is the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the Granite State, thanks largely to a letter writing campaign by Dover, NH, third graders. The Secretary of the Navy selected Portsmouth over two other competing sites for the commissioning ceremony. “Not only is it logical that the Navy’s gold standard ‘New Hampshire’ shipyard have the honor – but it is thanks to Dover school children that this submarine – the 5th in the Navy’s new Virginia Class Submarine fleet – is the new Navy ship to bear the ‘New Hampshire’ name,” according to the Commissioning Committee.
The Commissioning ceremony is a high-profile, tradition-laden event for the Navy. It will attract senior Navy officers, Congressional representatives, the Governor, special invited guests and thousands of visitors including the crew’s families.
As a fellow New Englander, I encourage you to virtually visit the USSNH. It’s worth the trip. And as a proud Mainer, I must point out that Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is in Kittery, Maine, not in Portsmouth, N.H.