PCU New Hampshire Update
A reporter from a New Hampshire newspaper went down to Groton and wrote a fairly good story on the status of the fifth Virginia-class submarine, PCU New Hampshire (SSN 778). Excerpts:
That official commissioning and christening of the New Hampshire will take place over the course of the next year. Meanwhile, the ship is already "manned up," with a pre-commissioning captain and crew overseeing the installation of the many systems that will make the New Hampshire the most sophisticated sub in the Navy fleet...Speaking of the Virginia-class boats, we're still waiting on a name for SSN 780. Senator Tester from Montana recently made a case for his state to be the namesake, pointing out that Montana is the only one of the 50 states never to have had a ship named for it.
...Chase is a 24 year-old graduate of Farmington High School (Class of '01). He enlisted six days after graduation and was stationed aboard the USS Philadelphia off the coast of Bahrain -- he's a nuclear reactor operator -- when he heard that the USS New Hampshire was in the works.
"I filed my '1306' the next day," he smiled, with "1306" being the Navy's "request for transfer" paperwork. "If there was going to be a 'New Hampshire,' I wanted to be first on board."
"In the Navy, there are boats and there are targets. Surface ships are targets. We're on a boat," he grinned -- a boyish grin that should get him carded in bars until he's 50. "Really though, it's about the independence. On a submarine, once you're gone, you're gone. You get the chance to do the job that Joe Citizen is paying you to do, and you do it to the best of your ability."
Bell-ringer 1147 14 Oct: RM1(SS) (Ret) points out that Sen. Tester may have been using some of that well-known political "truth-stretching" when he wrote to SecNav that Montana has never really had a ship named for it. Here's part of the Senator's letter from the link above:
Montana twice has come close to having a Navy ship named for it, but these did not work out. The Armored Cruiser 13 was christened the USS Montana in 1906, but had its named changed to the USS Missoula shortly afterwards...Compare and contrast with the official Navy history of ships named Montana:
The first Montana (ACR‑13), was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Va., 29 April 1905; launched 15 December 1906; sponsored by Miss Minnie Conrad; and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard 21 July 1908, Capt. Alfred Reynolds in command...So, we see that, in the Senator's mind (or at least that of his staff) "shortly" means 12 years, or 96% of the ship's total commissioned lifetime. Just for that misleading statement, the new submarine should be named "California", and all the peaceniks who are offended by that should be required to move to Montana and become Sen. Tester's constituents.
...Following her arrival at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Seattle, Wash., Montana remained there from 16 August 1919 through her decommissioning 2 February 1921. On 7 June 1920 Montana was renamed Missoula for a city of Montana and classified CA‑13 on 7 June 1920...