Carter Underway With the Carters
While I've gone on record in favor of returning to "traditional" submarine names, I still have to admit that there would probably be few things cooler than cruising around in a warship carrying one's name. President Carter is apparently enjoying that feeling right now; Channel 4 News in Jacksonville reports that President and Mrs. Carter embarked about USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) in Kings Bay today, and will be returning there tomorrow afternoon. One paragraph of the story, though, grabbed my attention:
"The Navy said this will be the first dive for the former president since his Navy career ended in 1953 and the first dive ever for Mrs. Carter, who is the boat's sponsor."
Now, this probably isn't true; I know that President and Mrs. Carter got underway on USS Los Angeles (SSN-688) when he was President back in 1977; at least one unofficial web site claims that the boat did submerge during this nine-hour cruise. Of course, it's hard to get to deep enough water to dive within four hours of the Atlantic coast, so I could imagine that they stayed on the surface the whole time. On the other hand, I would think that if they had found a way to submerge at all, even to PD, they would have done so for the Commander-in-Chief.
Actually, check all of the above. I just found what appears to be the official Presidential diary at the Jimmy Carter Library website for May 27, 1977, and this document says that the LA submerged with President and Mrs. Carter aboard at 1155, and "resurfaced" (?) at 1516. Therefore, if the Navy in fact is claiming that this is President Carter's first dive since 1953, as the Jacksonville station is claiming, then they're wrong. Any LT(jg) PAO who might putting that info out should get their story straight, pronto. In fact, although I can't find it on-line right now, I know that President and Mrs. Carter got underway on USS Seawolf (SSN-21) fairly soon after they announced the name of SSN-23, and I would imagine that they submerged then. (There's a fairly deep spot fairly close to Groton that they take VIPs out to submerge on day trips.)
This reminds me of a story that one of my men on the Carter told me. He was stationed on USS Seawolf (SSN-21) when President and Mrs. Carter were aboard, and was standing Reactor Operator when they came into Maneuvering (!), accompanied by Admiral "Skip" Bowman, who was then head of Naval Reactors. As the story goes, Admiral Bowman was explaining stuff to President Carter, and Rosalynn started talking to the RO (an ET1), asking his name ("Eric") and where he was from. She then turned to Admiral Bowman and said, "Skip, do you know Eric?"... Totally classic; generated what was probably the only submarine quote log entry from a former First Lady. (As it turns out, Admiral Bowman was fairly familiar with all the Seawolf nukes, having ridden them several times before, so he was able to say "yes" without lying.) Completely off topic, Admiral Bowman was also a pretty good writer; you might be interested in this article he wrote in 1999. And while I'm linking Undersea Warfare articles, here's one of intense personal interest to me: the completion of Connecticut's Sea Trials. (For those new to this blog, I was her Engineer during this time.)
Update 0533 12 Aug: Here's another story that says it'll be President Carter's first dive since 1953, so it looks like somebody put out a press kit about it with the wrong info...
Update 1945 12 Aug: It looks like all the stories (example here, with good pictures) that came out after the Carter pulled back in also mistakenly say that this was President Carter's first dive since 1953; the Navy Times article hedges its bets by attributing this "fact" to a Navy press release. There's a nice picture of SSN-23's namesake passing through a group of sideboys when disembarking in this story.