Friday, July 22, 2016

2016 Tolling the Boats Ceremony Canceled


After consultation with Tolling the Boats ceremony organizers, we have collectively decided to cancel the 2016 Tolling the Boats event.
We made this decision for multitude of reasons and we believe it is the right thing to do. Some of the reasons that informed this decision are:
  • Seattle Base currently lacks full leadership, due to the vacant Sr. Vice Commander position and temporary absence of our Jr. Vice Commander. Participation of these board members is crucial during high profile events like our annual Tolling. 
  • The City of Kirkland has initiated a more stringent application process and we would have to pay for more liability coverage above the level currently covered by the National USSVI Policy. 
  • There are some complications with getting all the necessary materials (portable seating, float, etc.) to the event. 
  • I am currently under a doctor’s care for pneumonia and quite frankly probably won’t be up to conducting the ceremony on the 20th. 
In conclusion, we believe the Tolling the Boats ceremony, our premier event, requires us to be at our best. Under the current circumstances, this is not the case.

I hope you will agree with us that it is in our best interests to forego this year’s event and plan to resume at full strength in 2017. I would appreciate your assistance in getting the word out to all our shipmates.

I want to take this opportunity to thank those who work with dedication and limitless energy every year to make these events so successful.

Finally, remember there is no meeting in August. We should all take the month off to enjoy our summer with families and friends.

I look forward to joining you at the September 21st meeting.

Al Smith
Seattle USSVI Base Commander

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 2016 Meeting Reminder

The next Seattle Base meeting is this coming Wednesday, July 20, 2016. We will meet at VFW Post #2995 (4330 148th Ave N.E., Redmond WA 98052). Social hour starts at 6 PM with business meeting at 7 PM.

We will be recapping the Kirkland Independence Day Parade, finalizing sign-ups for the July 22 – 25 Smokey Point event, and getting out information on the Tolling the Boats ceremony set for August 20 at Kirkland’s Marina Park. 
Reminder, there will not be a meeting in August due to the Tolling ceremony.

We hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Recap of the Bangor Submarine Base Tour

The June 30 tour of Submarine Base Bangor went off without any issues and everyone seemed to enjoy the trip.  Dick Gonzalez and Bob Opple were gracious enough to share their thoughts on the trip.
The Tour Group by USS Sturgeon's sail at Keyport Undersea Museum
We met at the Keyport Undersea Museum and while we waited for the arrival of the Navy bus we did a quick roll call of our members and their guests. We also managed to take a few group pictures next to the sail of the USS Sturgeon SSN 637. When the bus arrived, we met the Public Affairs Officer (Sub Group 9) Kenneth Takada, who provided an overview of the tour and the emphasis on security.
     We proceeded through Bangor main gate and disembarked at the entrance of the Trident Training Facility (TTF). We split up into several smaller groups, met our tour guides, (all wearing Dolphins) and proceeded into several training areas including the diesel engine room compartment where we enjoyed an overview of the twelve cylinder Fairbanks & Morse power plant with its updated electronic engine controller. My grandson Nathan was given the opportunity to start and operate a simulated engine. Later in the tour he simulated firing a torpedo in the torpedo training room. Our final event before breaking for lunch was the navigation simulator, where several tour members had the opportunity to wear virtual headgear in order to steer a boat in different scenarios.
     After lunch we boarded the bus and headed down to USS Louisiana SSBN 743, which was commissioned 1997 at Kings Bay Georgia. Prior to boarding we noticed several Humvees equipped with turrets, and machine guns manned by serious looking marines. We went through the Marine Security Checkpoint to validate our citizenship and then boarded the bus again and proceeded to the boat.
     Louisiana was undergoing a good deal of maintenance work and we saw several yard birds working right alongside crew members. We could see several other boats in the same state, keeping in mind this is primarily a boomer base where readiness is essential to their mission.
     We broke into small groups and several qualified crew members provided a systematic and detailed tour of the boat. They seemed to appreciate we were also qualified and could understand most of the terminology and layout of the boat.
     We exited the sub and boarded the bus back to the Keyport Undersea Museum parking lot. We expressed our appreciation to the Public Affairs Officer for the effort and time spent on our behalf.
     Perhaps we should repeat this tour again sometime next year.

Dick Gonzalez
The Tour Group at Deterrent Park on Submarine Base Bangor with the sail of USS Woodrow Wilson (SSBN 624) in the back
Bangor and the Tour of USS Louisiana 
I have been fortunate enough to go to Bangor a few other times and as with all of my visits to this NW sub base I once again was in WOW.

WOW at the hospitality shown towards us by everyone we came in contact with be it the bus driver, a major tour guide, the young sailors conducting the training classes and in particular the crewmen assigned to the SSBN Louisiana who took time out of their very busy schedules to each give us a very in-depth personal tour.

I was in WOW at the security around the submarines that were in their pens, the professionalism of the Marine Corps who have the responsibility for security of not only the submarines but the many nuclear weapons that I know are somewhere on the base. We can all rest assured that our submarines are protected from anyone who has hopes of damaging our fleet.

I was in WOW at the ballistic submarine we toured; there was little comparison between it and the old diesel World War II submarines that many of us served on. The sophistication of the equipment far exceeded anything that we could have imagined in the 50s or 60s. As I stood in the forward torpedo room I was told that it was 47 feet across, that itself was a tremendous difference as the old fleet boats were only 17 feet at the widest point.

But most importantly I was in WOW just meeting and talking to today’s submarine crew. I doubt that I would have the knowledge to qualify on subs today. The sophistication and complexity of the electronics and nuclear power are all about my head. These kids are continually undergoing training not only at sea but during the three-month period there on shore. The only question that our guide, or anyone on board, could not answer was: “where was the fanorknor valve?”, all we diesel guys know that answer.

We also had the opportunity to tour the training facility and talk to a few of the instructors and they confirmed how sharp these young men and women really are. The retention rate of today’s submarine sailor’s over 70% and this tells you how well these young sailors are respected by the military today.

I want to thank Richard Gonzales for putting this trip together, all of us were very impressed at the conclusion of the tour and looking forward to our next visit. Maybe next time to a Fast Attack submarine like the old Razorback SS-394.

Bob Opple

Thanks Bob and Dick for the recap.

Monday, July 4, 2016

2016 Kirkland Independence Day Parade Photos

We had a cool, cloudy day for the 2016 Kirkland Independence Day Parade. There were a few sun-breaks toward the end of the parade and overall it was really a nice day for the parade.

Once again the city of Kirkland did a nice job with the parade and all the festivities for celebrating Independence Day. As usual, veterans were presented with a boutonniere and we had some pizza before the parade. We had a few more submarine veterans, including the Silent Service Motorcycle Club (SSMC), participants than last year. The parade route was lined with a large and enthusiastic crowd.

Here are some photos from before and during the parade.
A few admirers having a look at the Seattle Base float before the parade
Before the parade, we got a group photo of all the veterans in front of Heritage Hall

We also grabbed a quick photo of all the submarine veterans
Then some last moment preparations ...
And getting the riders on the float
The piper led off the parade
The parade started off with the piper, then the Honor Guard, followed by some vehicles with World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans.

Then came the submarine float and Silent Service Motorcycle Club - Thresher Chapter
Submarine veteran banners led the group
Then the float
Most of the group rode the float this year
There were still some marchers behind the float
Then the SSMC

We had a few parade stops along the way, but the crowd seemed to enjoy those too

We all had a good time at the parade. We're looking forward to next year's parade and hope to see a few more members there.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Reminder: Kirkland Independence Day Parade

Seattle Base and the Silent Service Motorcycle Club will be participating in the Kirkland parade on Monday, July 4, 2016.
Seattle Base SubVets at the 2015 Independence Day parade
The City of Kirkland goes all out for veterans and always has treats, lunch, and boutonnieres for all military members and veterans in the parade.

We will meet near Heritage Hall, the large white two-story building on the north side of the corner of Central Way and Market Street. The Seattle Base float will be in place in the assembly area around 9:30 and all submarine veterans and motorcycles can meet near the float.

To get to the assembly area from I-405, you take Exit 18 off of 405, head west toward Kirkland. This road turns into Central Way. Follow Central until you reach Market and turn right to find parking at Heritage Park. You’ll pass Heritage Hall while looking for parking. Parking is available north of Heritage Hall in the boat ramp parking area and at Waverly Park.

The city will start closing down streets near the parade route around 9:30. If you are arriving after that time it is best to plan to get to the parking areas from the north heading south down Market Street.

Refreshments will be served around 11:00 and we will gather for a veterans group photo around 11:30. The Children’s Parade starts at 11:30, followed by the main parade at noon.
Kirkland parade route, along with the parking area and assembly location
We hope to see you there!

Remember, we will be returning to Kirkland on August 20 for the Tolling the Boats ceremony at the Kirkland Marina Pavilion.