Mark Of The Beast
Whenever one of the Boise television stations has a story about submarines, I figure I have to comment on it. The small town of Arco, Idaho, is the nearest town to the Idaho National Laboratory, where the Naval Reactors Facility (home of the Nautilus and Enterprise prototype reactors) is located. When USS Hawkbill (SSN 666) was decommissioned, the Navy decided to honor Arco by donating the boat's sail. Excerpt:
"It is leased to Arco for a hundred years," he says. "This actually belongs to the Navy yet. And every year we have to send a report in to the Navy on the condition of it."
"Submarine in the desert," says Clay Condit. "Yeah, an oxymoron if you ever had one."
Condit says Arco erected the sail in 2003.
Via The Sub Report, some more background information on the memorial is here.
It seems some of the townsfolk weren't to happy to have a submarine with such a "scary" hull number in their park:
"666 is clearly marked on both sides of the sail. 666 is sort of the sub's serial number. And it led to its nickname.
"It was called 'The Devil Boat."
"The Devil Boat -- because 666 is in the Book of Revelations in the Bible. And that's created mixed reaction in conservative Arco.
"Some of them didn't like it," Dean says about some Arco residents. "And some of them still don't like it."
"And we came back one day, and some guy climbed up there and changed that into G-O-D for God," Condit says with a chuckle. "And we had to go re-paint it."
There's an urban legend in the Sub Force that SSN 666 almost had another, even more "devilish" name. The story goes that Admiral Rickover didn't care much for religion, and saw a chance to tweak some noses when it came to naming the boats. As "666" was coming up, he thought it might be a good idea to honor the WWII submarine USS Sea Devil (SS 400) with a new namesake. Cooler heads prevailed, though, so that illustrious name was assigned to SSN 664 instead. Probably for the better, but still...