Monday, September 18, 2017

September 2017 Meeting Reminder

The next Seattle Base meeting is this coming Wednesday, September 20, 2017. We will meet at VFW Post #2995 (4330 148th Ave N.E., Redmond WA 98052). Social hour starts at 6PM with business meeting at 7PM.
We should be back in the main meeting room this month. We’ll get a recap of the Tolling the Boats ceremony and have an opportunity to discuss upcoming events and activities. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Grey Ghost: Examining the Future of USS Clamagore

Editor's Note: Here is a nice article from All Hands magazine about the Clamagore and her possible fate.
by Megan Schuller, All Hands Magazine Aug 30, 2017
An American flag flies above the charcoal, Cold-War era submarine, USS Clamagore (SS-343). The sub idly sits, sun-faded in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor as saltwater eats at it, causing orange rust and corrosion.

Inside the narrow steel haven, Patriot's Point Naval & Maritime Museum volunteer and Navy veteran Sid Busch stands as the captain of this retired vessel. The Clamagore is, for Busch, more than a giant steel tube. Inside a time capsule of days past, memories drift on his mind like a cool breeze as waves lap on a humid afternoon against the submarine in the harbor. More than a longtime friend, she is among the only family Busch has left. He even goes in early to pick up trash before the tourists show up to view the Clamagore - named after the blue parrot fish, found on coral reefs in shallow water.

"Sometimes I'll be sitting on the battery and have flashbacks to 50 years ago," Busch said, reflecting on his service days. He is 70 years old with a chiseled jaw, a retired Navy senior chief and an experienced runner who has run more than 200 marathons.

Busch served on the Clamagore from 1969 to 1972 as a sonar technician. He's been volunteering at Patriots Point, near downtown Charleston, for the past 10 years, giving tours of the boat he first boarded when he was 19. These days, he often incorporates personal stories into his detailed and impassioned tours. But Busch's days aboard his beloved Clamagore could be numbered.

The 320-foot submarine, which has called Patriots Point home since 1979, could become an artificial reef off the Florida coast. To remain a floating museum, she needs an expensive restoration, one that could cost about $6 million, according to Chris Hauff, a Patriots Point spokesman, and the lack of financial resources to fix the Clamagore may one day sink the vessel.

Two Navy ships at the maritime museum, USS Yorktown (CV 10) and USS Laffey (DD 724), also require repairs and maintenance that are deemed a higher priority. Museum officials are looking into the possibility of reefing - in other words, sinking - the Clamagore so that she becomes a permanent underwater museum, Hauff said.
"With our budget of a couple million, we can't do all three of the ships. The USS Yorktown needs $40 million worth of work and for us - that's what people come to see," Hauff said. "It comes down to a business decision: Where do we put money when we have it?"

Although Clamagore is registered as a national historic landmark, even that can't save her. According to documents from a Palm Beach County Commissioners meeting in January 2016, the submarine can receive approval to become scuttled (deliberately sunk) as an artificial reef by the Naval Sea Systems Command through the Section 106 historical review process, which requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties. It further dictates that documentation, such as war diaries, deck logs and operation reports, be taken off an historic vessel like the Clamagore. These records would then be transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration.

Recent reports suggest the Clamagore will wait in the harbor for at least a year while the Navy decides if it will approve the plans.

The Grey Ghost
The diesel-powered Clamagore was commissioned following World War II to patrol the Caribbean and North Atlantic during the Cold War. Nicknamed the "Grey Ghost" of the Florida coast during her service, she is now the last submarine with the Balao-class GUPPY III upgrade. This improved the submerged speed, maneuverability, battery capacity and overall performance of the Clamagore.

After decommissioning the submarine in 1975, the Navy donated her to the state of South Carolina, and Patriot's Point was given the responsibility for the Grey Ghost's maintenance and upkeep. Those costs are now unsustainable.

According to Hauff, Patriots Point contracted Artificial Reefs International, a Miami-based firm that creates reefs for economic development and environmental benefits by sinking ships, to find a reef suitable for the Clamagore. Palm Beach County, Florida, officials agreed to the project and put aside a million dollars toward reefing the Clamagore off the coast of Jupiter, Florida.

"People could enjoy the history of the ship, just from a different way," Hauff said.
Reefed submarines and ships serve as underwater tourist attractions, allowing experienced scuba divers and tourists to dive and explore with guides.

If the Clamagore is reefed, sponges, coral and barnacles will attach themselves and colonize the vessel over time, and an array of fish species will take over not long after it sinks. Joe Weatherby, senior project manager of Artificial Reefs International-USS Clamagore said reefed vessels provide marine life with protection from predators, breeding opportunities and food sources while also offering economic opportunities for scuba diving and fishing industries.

Bill Cogar, executive director of the Historic Naval Ships Association, a nonprofit that helps preserve and market historic ships across the world, supports a responsible and accountable way to reef the Clamagore. He contended that the submarine, having run her life's course, would remain a functional object, and noted that the equipment removed from the submarine could be distributed to other vessels of Clamagore's class.

Fate, Hope & Clarity
For Busch, the Clamagore is still worth saving, however: "These submarines had personalities. I guess it's because when you came on a submarine, you had to learn it backwards and forwards. ... Each submarine developed their own unique personality. The synchronicity to how they rode on the surface - they started to be more like a living entity then just a metal tube."

He's not the only one who wants to see her restored rather than reefed. The main hope appears to lie within the USS Clamagore SS-343 Restoration and Maintenance Association, which has been working to relocate the submarine to a land berth. That way, it could still serve as a submarine museum and memorial for future generations, according to Rick Wise, secretary of CRAMA and retired Navy senior chief.

"We are not trying to do anything that has not been done before," Wise said. "It reduces the maintenance cost quite a bit."

He explained that CRAMA is trying to get a letter of intent from the South Carolina state legislature. Between that and a number of corporations interested in saving the Clamagore, he believes CRAMA could raise enough capital to store the submarine in a shipyard temporarily. Then the team would evaluate the damage, make the necessary preservation repairs and purchase land to permanently house the Clamagore.
"We're not giving up," Wise said optimistically. "We're submarine Sailors, we don't give up until we're on the bottom and we've blown all the air we can."

Still, the Clamagore's fate and the destiny of two lifelong friends remain uncertain. If and when she leaves Patriot's Point, Busch plans to stop volunteering at the maritime museum. He feels he would no longer be needed and that it would be too difficult to return once she is gone.

"I always tell people, she kept me safe, she got me home. It's my turn to save her, and, unfortunately, I couldn't do a good enough job at it," Busch said, his words rinsed with emotion. "It's going to be a dark day for me when she finally leaves. I plan to show up just to see her towed out."

For now, the Clamagore rests at a secluded far end of Patriots Point's concrete dock - perhaps spending her final months in South Carolina as museum ship before the Grey Ghost of the Florida coast permanently returns to the waters she once patrolled.

Monday, September 4, 2017

September - October 2017 Dolphin Brotherhood Posted

The September – October 2017 issue of the Dolphin Brotherhood has been posted to the Seattle Base website.
Memorial Wreath from the 2017 Tolling the Boats Ceremony
This issue has photos from the Kirkland Independence Day Parade, the Seattle Base Tolling the Boats Ceremony and the usual submarine related articles.

Hardcopies will be mailed out later this week. I hope you all enjoy the newsletter.

Remember to check back here for base updates and other articles of interest. Please note that the Dolphin Brotherhood archives link is no longer working and the link on the blog doesn’t go anywhere right now. I’m shifting the archives to a new location.

Dave Schueler
Seattle USSVI Base Newsletter Editor

Sunday, September 3, 2017

USSVI Charitable Fund - Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

USS Cavalla (SS-244) at Seawolf Park in Galveston TX (not far from Houston)
The USSVI Charitable Fund is establishing a special Brotherhood Fund USSVI members that has suffered damage from Hurricane Harvey.

Currently, we do not know how many of our members have sustained damage from the hurricane and subsequent flooding, but we are pretty sure that there will be more than we would want to see.

All bases and individuals are asked to give serious consideration to contributing money to this cause. Please inform your members that they can contribute to this fund to help our fellow shipmates.

Once all the elements of the fund are set up in the Brotherhood Fund, The Charitable Fund President will send out an e-mail letting us know how to contribute.

Thanks you all who contribute to this worthy cause for our shipmates.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

2017 Tolling the Boats Ceremony

Seattle USSVI Base held our annual Tolling the Boats  ceremony on August 19, 2017 at the Kirkland Marina Park Pavilion. It turned out to be a clear and warm day, just perfect for the outdoor ceremony.
The Tolling Ceremony banner, welcoming the public to the event
This year we had a few light refreshments (snacks and cake) and some social time before the ceremony
A close up of one of the cakes
Grabbing some snacks
Lynda Shelton cutting the cakes
World War II veteran Fred Ennslin and his wife Josie
World War II veterans Bill Lightfoot and Ralph Sterley
Seattle Base Chaplin Andrea Geisler and Don Ulmer
Thanks to Diane, Lynn, Lynda, and Judy for helping with the food
As usual, the Seattle Base float drew the attention of people in the park and a number of them stopped by the pavilion to ask questions.
A few people passing-by stop to ask questions
The Tolling the Boats Ceremony is a memorial service to honor our lost submarine brothers who made the supreme sacrifice while performing their duties with valor, integrity, and courage. This ceremony is a fundamental part our creed as members of U.S. Submarine Veterans, "To perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in pursuit of their duties while serving their country."

The Honor Guard from VFW Post 2995 was on hand to 'Present the Colors' and provide other honors for the ceremony.
Presenting the Colors
After which, our World War II veterans were piped aboard and escorted to their seats. As were the wives of the World War II vets and widows of submariners.
Our honored World War II Veterans
Submarine wives and widows are seated
Seattle Base Commander Al Smith provided welcomed everyone and provided some opening remarks.
Seattle Base Commander Al Smith with opening remarks
Kami McGrath was on-hand to provide music for the ceremony
Past-Base Commander Steve Shelton remembered our shipmates that have departed on Eternal Patrol in the past two years and then explained the history and significance of the Tolling the Boats ceremony. Past-Base Commander Ric Hedman then read the poem "Toll the Bell", which led to the reading of the lost boats by Steve and Ric.
Steve Shelton explaining the purpose of the Tolling ceremony
Ric Hedman reads the poem by Flecther Pratt
Steve and Ric take turns reading the names of lost U.S. Navy submarines
While Ralph Sterley rings the bell for each lost boat and crew
When the reading was complete, World War II submarine veteran Ralph Sterley laid the memorial wreath to honor all the lost submariners and the VFW Honor Guard provided a gun salute and played Taps.
Ralph placing the memorial wreath
VFW Honor Guard firing the rifle salute
VFW bugler playing Taps
That concluded our ceremony for another year. Thanks to all that attended. Special thanks to Lois Mezek and all those who helped this year's Tolling the Boats ceremony a success. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Reminder: 2017 Seattle Base Tolling the Boats Ceremony

Seattle Base's annual Tolling the Boats ceremony is set for this Saturday, August 19, 2015 at the Kirkland Marina Park Pavilion (25 Lakeshore Plaza Drive).

We will have light refreshments starting around 11:30AM and the ceremony will get underway around 1:00PM.

The Tolling ceremony is an important part of our organization's creed. It is also an opportunity to honor our shipmates on Eternal Patrol.

We hope to see you on Saturday and be sure and bring your family and friends.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Florida Proclaims U.S. Submarine Veterans Appreciation Week

On July 27, 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a proclamation declaring September 1 - 6, 2017 as U.S. Submarine Veterans Appreciation Week. Here is an image of the proclamation (you can click on it for a larger view) and the full text is presented below the image.

U.S. Submarine Veterans Appreciation Week 

WHEREAS, the United States Submarine Veterans Incorporated (USSVI) will hold their National Convention in Orlando, Florida on September 1 – 6, 2017, which marks the 117th anniversary of the Submarine Service; and

WHEREAS, the creed of Submarine Veterans is, in part, “to perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in pursuit of their duties while serving their country”; and

WHEREAS, today the U.S. Submarine Service Fast Attack boats play a critical role as a “First Strike” force, and ballistic missile submarines roam the ocean as a deterrent against enemy attack; and

WHEREAS, nearly 4,000 Submarine Sailors have given their lives while defending this great country; and

WHEREAS, the USS Florida (SSBN-728/SSGN-728), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, is the sixth ship of the U.S. Navy to be named for the Sunshine State; and

WHEREAS, the State of Florida proudly honors all Submarine Sailors who have served out nation in appreciation for the critical role they have played, and will continue to play, in the defense of the citizens of the United States of America;

NOW, THEREFORE, I Rick Scott, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend greetings and best wishes to all observing September 1-6, 2017 as U.S. Submarine Veterans Appreciation Week.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Florida to be affixed at Tallahassee, the Capital, this 27th day of July, in the year two thousand seventeen.