Committee Presents to Rotary Club of Morris Plains

This morning committee members Paul Blodgett and Stephen Hutton had the opportunity and privilege to make a presentation to the Rotary Club of Morris Plains describing our mission and informing about the future addition to the submarine fleet: the USS New Jersey (SSN 796).

The presentation was well received and some excellent questions were asked.

Thanks to the members for such a warm welcome and allowing us the opportunity to talk about this new submarine.

August Namesake Visit – Camden and Philadelphia

On Sunday the 29th of August, the crew was given a tour of the Battleship New Jersey BB-62 and observed CPO Initiation Ceremony conducted onboard the battleship.

After an outstanding tour, the crew was hosted by the Iron Worker Union Local 12698 at tailgate and Phillies versus Pirates baseball game.

The crew then returned to Virginia completing another memorable crew hometown visit.

  • Author Captain Joe Lario

USS New Jersey Visits 177th Fighter Wing

The following day after the Atlantic City Air Show the committee and crew members visiting from the USS New Jersey were granted the chance to visit the 177th Fighter Wing, NJ Air National Guard.

Big thank you to committee trustee Marshall Spevak for organizing the visit! Joining Marshall, were committee members Joe Velez, and chairman Stephen Hutton.

After an orientation session that explained the role and composition of the unit we were taken to meet with two pilots on standby for immediate departure (should the need arise), their F-16s fully fueled and armed. We were able to get up close to the aircraft and the sailors had some great questions for the two pilots.

While we weren’t allowed to take photos at this point their Public Affairs person (Senior Airman Hunter Hires) took the following photo for us of USAF Capt. Patrick “SOJO” Schiffer discussing his aircraft and his mission.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Patrick "SOJO" Schiffer
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Hunter Hires

After this fantastic Q&A opportunity we were taken to get a photo with a nearby unarmed F-16c Fighting Falcon

mmission Committee and USS New Jersey Sailors Visit 177th Fighter Wing
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Hunter Hires

Next the crew and committee were in for another treat as we were taken into a highly secure area where two F-16 flight simulators were in place. Every sailor and committee member was given a chance to ‘fly’ an F-16, and in Marshall’s case deplete all his ammunition and require rearming in mid-flight.

Such a unique military experience so unlike anything submariners typically have an opportunity to participate in. At the end of the visit gifts were exchanged and it looks like the beginning of a friendship between the SSN 796 ‘Devil Fish’ and 177th Fighter Wing ‘Jersey Devils’.

A Great Day For An Air Show!

Weather was a little on the warm side but the sky was clear and just right for the Atlantic City Air Show on August 24th. The committee got to the boardwalk a little early, with Steve Hutton making the delivery of our tent, table, weights, and giveaways and Joe Velez and Peter Engelman on station ready to receive. The three of us finally figured out how to put the committee’s new tent up, and it looked fantastic!

Tent graphics designed by Aviate Creative, LLC
https://aviatecreative.com/

We told the sailors they didn’t have to arrive too early, but we set aside the table provided by the city for the crew to sell their t-shirt, ball caps, coins etc. All profits from their sales go towards the submarine’s MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) fund.

The crew looked great as usual and between ourselves and the sailors we attracted a lot of visits from people in the city for the Air Show. We handed out free coasters with our logo on, and gave out trifolds and explained what our role was regarding the boat and her crew. We solicited donations and pointed out that they could visit our web site to make contributions.

Crew members busy answering questions and selling

Not too long into the event we were joined by committee member Timi Lindsay and the four members stayed through until the end of the event, which was at 3:30pm at the conclusion of the Thunderbirds demonstration.

Special thanks to Ed Troche, Bill Aitken, and Joe Velez for getting the committee our new embroidered polo shirts. They turned out great and made the team look that much more professional!

Reception for Atlantic City Air Show

On Tuesday August 23rd the visiting sailors from the USS New Jersey, along with members of the commissioning committee were invited by the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce to attend a reception being given primarily for military participants in the upcoming Air Show. Principal among the attendees were the pilots and support personnel from the USAF Thunderbirds demonstration team – the ‘to be’ highlight performers for the following day’s air show.

So grateful to the AC Chamber of Commerce for putting on this event and for allowing us to be attendees. The following photo doesn’t do justice to the scale of the event, but was the best I could manage:

Atlantic City Air Show Here We Come

Only a few days away from the Atlantic City Air Show and we are ready. Look for us on the boardwalk by ‘Boardwalk Hall’ right next to the tent for the Battleship New Jersey. We’re bringing several crew members up from the new submarine the USS New Jersey to visit Atlantic City and get to know our state.

During the air show we’ll be manning our tent and looking for you to stop by if you’re there to meet us and some of the submarine’s crew. Come and meet us and learn about our mission of supporting the newest USS New Jersey as she readies to join the fleet next year. The sailors will be selling some souvenir items – ball caps, t-shirts, and more… and we will have a few little giveaways too!

We’ve done several of these crew visits now in various parts of NJ to introduce the crew to their namesake state as well as to give our state’s residents a chance to meet the sailors who will be proudly sailing the third US warship named New Jersey.

Interested in helping the committee?

Drop us a line via our contact page: https://njcommissioning.org/contact-us/

SubFest in Montgomery, NJ

A fantastic ‘SubFest’ was organized by the Montgomery News to celebrate the new USS New Jersey (SSN 796), a Virginia Class Fast Attack Submarine currently under construction and scheduled to join the fleet in 2023.

The event took place on cool and windy June 18th 2022

Plenty of food and drinks were available, local vendors had tables to display their wares, and two bands entertained the crowd. Our committee were given a table to set up and talk about our role, while the visiting crew members joined us and sold USS New Jersey sweatshirts, t-shirts, ball caps, coins and more as souvenirs. The profit from the crew’s sales go towards their MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) fund.

Several local, including town mayor Devra Keenan, gave people a chance to dunk them if they could hit the target with a thrown ball. Kudos to Devra and every other brave soul for doing this as it wasn’t the warmest day and the dunkings must have been freezing cold!

Mayor Devra Keenan
Mayor of Montgomery Township, Devra Keenan

The main attraction of the day was the second band performing on stage – ‘Slippery When Wet’ – considered the best Bon Jovi tribute band in the country! Their performance was outstanding and the crowd really enjoyed the music. To view a video of their performance of It’s My Life (and more) click here

Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi Tribute Band

During a break in the music crew members were asked up on stage and introduced to the crowd by Norman Silverstein! Norman was the power behind this whole event and the committee is grateful to him for everything he did to make this a reality!

Local media in addition to The Montgomery Press were in evidence and our own Chairman Stephen Hutton was interviewed to get our committee’s explanation of what we’re doing and why…

A few more videos of the event can be viewed here

Visit To Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate HQ

On Thursday June 16th five crew members from the brand new USS New Jersey SSN 796 were invited along with members of the Commissioning Committee (Stephen Hutton, Joe Velez, and John Koehr) to visit Johnson & Johnson’s corporate HQ in New Brunswick, NJ.

The first part of our visit was a warm welcome at Johnson Hall were breakfast was waiting. We spent some time mixing with J&J employees, several of whom were themselves military veterans. Following breakfast were were treated to being among the first guests ever to get to be given a tour of their new Johnson & Johnson museum.

After the fascinating tour (I never knew J&J invented duct tape!) we were invited back to the main building where we met with the head of HR for J&J for a great conversation about the company and the J&J Credo. A quick trip to the company store followed where the sailors purchased some items to take back to Virginia.

It was time for lunch and the crew and committee were taken up to the executive dining room where numerous former military employees joined us and broke bread. J&J really embraces employing military veterans and one side benefit of several of our namesake visits have been showing career opportunities for sailors once they (not too soon we hope) leave the US Navy.

Thanks to committee trustee Joe Velez for organizing the visit.

SubFest is Almost Here!

A festival to show support for our newest US Navy warship named after the great state of NEW JERSEY! The USS New Jersey (SSN 796)

A music and food festival featuring the Bon Jovi tribute band “Slippery When Wet” who will be performing on stage this coming June 18th at the Princeton Airport, on Route 206 south (a little north of Princeton) in Montgomery, NJ

Tickets are available online or on the day (though tickets are going fast) https://subfestnj.com/

There will be several vendors showing their wares, multiple food trucks, alcohol (for the adults) provided by The Tiger’s Tale, and ice cream for all ages!

Additionally there will be a climbing wall, a mechanical shark (think mechanical bull but a shark), and a dunking tank where we hope to dunk some local sports coaches, teachers, or anyone else we can ‘rope in’ before the day.

A local band will warm the crowd up before the main band plays.

Most important – for us – there will be several members of the new fast attack Virginia-class submarine USS New Jersey (SSN-796) present to meet and greet attendees. If you wonder what life is like aboard a US Navy submarine, what they eat, what they do with their time, why they chose the navy…. then this is the place to be.

Please stop by the committee’s booth to say hello when you first enter the event.

USS NEW JERSEY SSN-796
The submarine on the day of her christening 13 November 2021

This promises to be a huge event dedicated to our brave men and women of the US Navy’s submarine force and to the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796)

Trenton Navy Week – Part 6 – Saturday May 7th

Today consisted of tours of the Battleship New Jersey (BB-62) for crew members and setting up displays in the officers’ wardroom to showcase the submarine, the commissioning committee, and US Navy recruiting. Several tours went through the battleship and visitors stopped by to meet the sailors.

The weather was horrendous however, with heavy rain and wind and that literally put a damper on attendance by the public.

Trenton Navy Week – Part 4 – Thursday May 5th

Today we switched out crew members, bringing new sailors up from VA while the original ones headed back to the submarine and shipyard. The XO remained for continuity and oversight to ensure things continued smoothly. While six sailors joined the Navy Week activities at a ‘rescue mission’ in Trenton, the committee began our namesake activities today with breakfast at the Cinnaminson Diner, in Cinnaminson, NJ.

We’re proud of our NJ diners and want to make sure as many crew members as possible are able to enjoy the experience!


Adapting to some schedule changes, committee member John Koehr helped work out a visit for the sailors to the Philadelphia side of the river. But first a tour of the Battleship New Jersey (another regular and important feature of each namesake visit) and signing the banner on board.


After the tour a trip over the bridge to Philadelphia

First stop was the cruiser Olympia (C-6) at the Independence Seaport Museum. She is listed as the oldest remaining steel ship afloat. She was built and placed into commission by the United States Navy for the first time in February 1895 as a state-of-the-art man of war.
source: https://www.phillyseaport.org/cruiser-olympia/

Next up was a visit to the USS Becuna. The Becuna is a Balao-class submarine, now a museum, and is a former United States Navy submarine. She was designated a National Historic Landmark for her service in World War II, for which she earned four battle stars.


The crew then traveled back to New Jersey for “Cinco de Mayo” celebrations at the Bellemara Distillery in Hillsborough, hosted by Camden Winkelstein, the owner, head distiller, and also a former submarine officer. Several members of the committee joined the crew for a relaxing evening. Hillsborough Township Committeeman Frank DelCore attended the event and greeted the sailors from the submarine New Jersey (SSN-796).

The Flounder Brewery (next door to the distillery) also hosted the sailors and kindly offered a share of their sales for the night to the committee. Thanks both to Cam at Bellemara and to Jeremy Lees (President of Flounders Brewing Co., LLC).


Throughout the day crew members were greeted by members of the public and thanked for their service.  New Jersey crew members were deeply moved by the public support throughout New Jersey and Philadelphia and impressed by the number of proud veterans and former submariners they met.

Trenton Navy Week – Part 3 – Wednesday May 4th

Our originally scheduled school visit had to be cancelled due to some issues getting sufficient youngsters to attend. The 12 PCU New Jersey crew members instead joined the rest of the Navy Week sailors at a cleanup operation at Alberta Woods Park in Camden, NJ.

Our own committee member (recently retired) US Navy Captain ‘Timi’ Lindsay, joined the sailors. She can be seen in the photo above.

Trenton Navy Week – Part 2 – Tuesday May 3rd

Our committee’s portion of Navy Week (which we’re supplementing with additional crew members as a ‘namesake visit’) kicked off with a visit to the major defense contractor L3Harris in Trenton, NJ. https://www.l3harris.com/

The folks at L3Harris really rolled out the red carpet and gave us an extensive tour allowing crew members to learn more about the company, it’s product line, and all the work that happens right there in Trenton.

After L3Harris the sailors had lunch and then joined the rest of the sailors in NJ for Navy Week to participate in a Habitat For Humanity project for the remainder of the day.

Trenton Navy Week – Part 1 – Monday May 2nd

Today the committee started our own portion of the Navy Week with a tour of Princeton Plasma Physics where the crew and commissioning committee members were treated to a chance to view the NSTXU fusion reactor. This spherical device is shaped like a cored apple rather than the doughnut-like shape of conventional tokamaks. It can produce high-pressure plasmas — essential ingredients for fusion reactions — with relatively low and cost-effective magnetic fields. 

NSTXU-fusion-reactor

Next stop was a quick lunch at PJ’s Pancake House in Lawrence Township as we make sure the crew visits include the ‘diner experience’.


After lunch crew members visited Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly. The sailors gave a talk to several jNROTC units and entertained numerous questions on a variety of topics relating to life on a submarine. Great questions and some really engaged young men and women.


Aboard BB62

Next we moved down to Camden and went aboard the Battleship New Jersey (BB62) for a quick tour, proceeding a recruitment ceremony where several young men and women were formerly sworn into the US Navy by the CO of the PCU New Jersey, Cmdr. Jared Smith. A small US Navy band played music prior to the ceremony.

After the ceremony we escorted the sailors from the submarine to join the committee for an informal dinner in the officers’ wardroom.

Before breaking bread the committee presented the The Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial with the central portion of the bow flag from the submarine’s christening ceremony (as seen in the photo below). Cmdr Smith joined committee chairman Stephen Hutton in making the presentation.

Bow flag

Committee Chairman Stephen Hutton then presented the ‘Junior sailor of the Year’ award to TM2(SS) Trevor E. Garmane.

Followed by ‘Senior Sailor of the Year’ to MMN1(SS) Paul E. Baker III


We wrapped the evening up by enjoying a fun, relaxed, and casual dinner organized by our own committee member Captain Joe Lario, USN (Ret).

A long day but a great kick off to our ‘namesake’ portion of Navy Week.

Navy Week In New Jersey

‘Navy Week’ is coming to Trenton and the surrounding area the week of May 2nd and crew members from the New Jersey will be joining. The committee has managed to double the number of attendees from the submarine and will be combining Navy Week with our own activities to create a week long ‘namesake visit’.

The week will include youth outreach, events on the Battleship New Jersey (BB62), tours of defense contractors in the area, a first pitch at the Somerset Patriots baseball team at TD Bank Ballpark, a clean up operation, work and Habitat for Humanity and more…

Navy Weeks are the service’s signature outreach program, designed to allow the citizens of Trenton to learn about the Navy, its people, and its importance to national security and prosperity. The Navy Office of Community Outreach (NAVCO) coordinates Navy Weeks.

View the US Navy announcement

Honor Day at Eagle Oaks Golf and Country Club

On May 26th the Eagle Oaks Golf and Country Club will be holding a day at a championship quality golf course to honor U.S. Military and benefit the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. This will be their 14th annual event.

Crew members from the under construction PCU New Jersey will be present as guests of this generous organization.

SUBFEST – Coming June 18th, 2022!

Join us to meet and celebrate crew members of the new Virginia-class submarine THE USS NEW JERSEY!

She’s currently wrapping up construction and will be joining the fleet next year. Meanwhile we’re bringing her crew to her namesake state to join the Jersey family and get to know us while we get to know her!

So join us for a fun filled day of music, food, and patriotic celebration!

SUBFEST COVER PAGE

http://www.subfestnj.com

SUBFEST write up

http://www.subfestnj.com

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Supporting Commissioning Committee

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation A-6012 which provides access to state funding to support the Commissioning Committee for the new USS New Jersey.

Primary sponsors of A-6012 include Assemblymembers William Moen, Carol Murphy, and Roy Freiman, and Senators Paul Sarlo, and Vin Gopal. 

This legislation appropriates funds from the General Fund to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for the USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee. The purpose of the appropriation is to support the commissioning of the USS New Jersey and the officers and crew assigned to the ship.

Contributions to the USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee support traditional Commissioning Week activities, visits to the state by crewmembers, and habitability upgrades to the boat for the crew. Expenditure of the amount appropriated is subject to approval by the Adjutant General of an itemized plan for the expenditure to be submitted by the USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee. Any amount unexpended shall be donated for the support of personnel and their families and for the funding of existing or the creation of new United States Navy scholarship programs. 

Read full release

Change of Command for PCU NEW JERSEY

CDR Jared Smith official photo.
CDR Jared Smith official photo.

CDR Jared Smith and CDR Carlos Otero will exchange commands this month, with CDR Smith assuming command of the PCU New Jersey, while CDR Otero assumes command of the USS New Mexico (SSN-779).

The USS New Mexico is the second Virginia-class submarine in the Block II series and is home ported in Norfolk, VA. She is also the second US Navy ship named after the state of New Mexico.

The committee welcomes CDR Smith and we look forward to building a great working relationship with him over the coming months.

We’d also like to thank CDR Otero and wish him well with his new command.

Trenton Fleet Week

The crew of the NJY intends to maximize its support for Trenton Fleet Week 2-8 May.  We look forward to seeing a large portion of the crew attend several events and continue to better get to know its namesake state!

Roll Out

At the end of January or early February March or early April, NJ will be moved from its initial assembly building to a floating drydock.  Multiple hydraulic sleds will lift the 7,900 ton vessel and slowly move it a quarter of a mile to the water. 

She will stay within the floating drydock to finish the last remaining jobs before being ready to be lowered and moored next to the pier for the first time later this spring.

Post Core Hot Operations

The NJY recently completed a major construction milestone of Post Core Hot Operations.  This is a series of tests and operation in the engineering plant following installation of the reactor core.

This was the first time in the ship’s life the engineering plant was heated up to operating temperatures.  Testing covered all of the reactor safety features and mechanical safety features.  The entire engineering department was in shift work providing around the clock coverage.  Our months of training and preparation paid off and resulted in our combined team completing the evolution almost a week sooner than planned.

The crew of the NJY continues to excel and has completed each testing milestone in less than the time predicted!

A Great Second ‘Namesake Visit’

Crew members visited New Jersey this past weekend for the second of our ‘namesake visits’ where we introduce the crew to NJ and NJ to the crew. Each visit is intended to highlight aspect of New Jersey’s history, economy, and culture and to let as many people in NJ as possible know about what will be the third US Navy warship to proudly carry the name USS NEW JERSEY.

The following is a summary of the weekend – more details and photos to follow.


Friday

This weekend started on Friday with a visit to the Battleship New Jersey (BB62) which is to be a regular feature on all visits as the battleship passes the baton to the submarine. As usual the folks at the BB62 put on a great tour, which this time included a Q&A session with their own volunteers.

Following the BB62 the crew members travelled to Colts Neck to meet a variety of youth groups as well as United States Submarine Veterans. The Q&A was extensive as everyone seemed highly engaged.

The evening concluded with a visit to the Eagle Oaks Golf and Country Club in Howell Township, where the crew were given the VIP treatment. View their extremely impressive golf course here

Eagle Oaks Golf & Country Club

Thanks to Pete Engelman, Jack Willard, Joe Lazario, Joe Velez, the members at Eagle Oaks Golf & Country Club, and all the folks at the BB62 involved in making Friday go so well.


Saturday

Saturday was Army:Navy day at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Before heading to the game the commissioning committee took the crew to breakfast at the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton. Many of the crew were unfamiliar with such classic NJ/NY diners and such NJ staples as Taylor Ham (or pork roll if you are from southern NJ) and ‘Disco Fries’. Pretty sure we got a couple of converts!

Prior to the game itself the crew and committee members were warmly welcomed by Representative Mike Sherrill at a pre-game ‘tailgate party’ in the parking lot. Representative Sherrill was generous with her time including conducting the promotion ceremony for one of the crewmen. Sherrill is a former Navy helicopter pilot.

The crew and committee members were then ushered into the stadium prior to kickoff to spend time on the sidelines soaking up the atmosphere and taking photos.

Prior to kickoff the crew were then taken to their seats where they watched the game. At one point they were then invited to join Governor Murphy who gave them a warm welcome and spent time with them in his suite. Governor Murphy was one of the main speakers last month in Virginia at the christening ceremony held at the Huntingdon Ingalls Industries Ship Building facility.

The submarine and committee’s logos were briefly displayed on the Jumbotron to let everyone in the stadium know about the boat and the crew.

After Navy beat Army! – the crew had liberty time and returned to their accommodations at NWS Earle in Colts Neck, NJ.

Thanks to Bill Squires and Paul Blodgett for helping make this such a great day.


Sunday

On Sunday we ventured just outside of New Jersey onto the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River for the reenactment of the Continental Army’s crossing which led to the Battle of Trenton. The crew were given VIP treatment with a personal guide talking through the events of that fateful day. George Washington joined us for a quick greeting and photo opportunity before joining his militia to prepare for attacking the Hessians.

The crew were guided down to the water’s edge where they were invited to board one of the boats to be used in the crossing and some more photos. They were then ushered to a private cordoned off area where they had an excellent view of the parading of troops and boarding of the boats for the crossing itself. While there they were given three Huzzahs by the approximately 4,000 visitors attending the event.

Thanks to Bill Aitken for being our committee point person on this day, and to the Friends of Washington Crossing Park who organize this event each year, and were such generous hosts.


All in all a great weekend and a lot of committee members did an outstanding job of bringing things together. Bravo Zulu team!

USS New Jersey Christening

On a windy but sunny Saturday in Virginia, the USS New Jersey was christened!

A major milestone in the life of a US Navy vessel is the christening. In this case it was an opportunity to officially name the USS New Jersey and also recognize and honor the men and women responsible for constructing her.

The ceremony took place outside of Newport News Shipbuilding’s Module Outfitting Facility and was attended by more than 1,800 guests, including Newport News Shipbuilding employees who are building New Jersey, members of the submarine’s crew, Navy personnel and other government officials, including Jeh Johnson.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, of Virginia, and U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, of New Jersey, both delivered remarks. Other speakers included New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy; Jay Stefany, acting assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition; Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe Jr., director of the Navy’s strategic systems programs; and Kevin Graney, president of General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Retired U.S. Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former chief of naval operations, provided an outstanding keynote address at this event on Saturday, November 13th, 2021.

Dr. Susan DiMarco Breaks The Bottle

The highlight of the event was when Dr. Susan DiMarco (the boat’s sponsor) broke a bottle of US sparkling wine at the bow of the boat. Pictured with Dr. DiMarco are Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding; Retired U.S. Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former chief of naval operations; and Cmdr. Carlos Otero, the boat’s prospective commanding officer.

In attendance from the committee were Stephen Hutton, Carlton Hoye, Peter Engelman, Joseph Velez, and John Koehr and his wife Melissa.

Photo source: https://newsroom.huntingtoningalls.com/releases/new-jersey-ssn-796-christened-2021

Montgomery/Rocky Hill Rotary Club

Committee Chairman, Stephen Hutton, met with the Rotary Club of Montgomery/Rocky Hill to present information about the submarine USS New Jersey (SSN-796) and the commissioning committee’s goal and objectives.

The audience were very engaged and had lots of questions about the boat and it’s crew.

Thanks to Paul Blodgett for helping make this meeting happen.

Looking forward to conducting more events of this kind to let folks around New Jersey know about the future addition to the US Navy, the USS New Jersey (SSN-796).

Montgomery/Rocky Hill Rotary

Our First Namesake Visit

On October 1st six crew members visited NJ as part of an ongoing series of ‘namesake’ visits designed to build a lasting relationship between the new submarine and the state of New Jersey.

Day 1

After driving up from Virginia the sailors gave a brief presentation and conducted a Q&A with jNROTC students (junior Naval Reserve Officer Training Corp) from MAST (Marine Academy of Science and Technology) in Highlands, NJ.

Pictured below while visiting MAST are MMA3 Marcos Briones, third from left, back row, is photographed with SSN796 crew members MMNC Steven Newton, MMN2 Matthew Baker, MMN1 Nick Herrin, YNSN Charles Miller, LT Cdr Nicholas Tuuk, Monmouth County Commissioner Lillian G Burry, and MAST cadets LCDR Aislinn Crowe, Battalion Commander, LT James Abbes, deputy battalion commander, LTjg Mary Catherine Harvey, training officer, and LTjg Jenna Lewandowski , drill commander. Photo by Michael J.Colarusso

jNROTC at MAST

Following that event the sailors were taken by US Army veteran Shawn Welch on a tour of Fort Hancock and Fort Lewis, addressing NJ’s role in military history – specifically related to harbor defenses during WWII.

Thanks to Shawn for taking the time to do this for us!

The day wrapped up with liberty free time with a meal at Bahrs Landing in Highlands.

Day 2

A full day started with an extensive VIP tour of the BB-62, the Battleship New Jersey, as well as a presentation while there to members of the local United States Power Squadron.

USS Nj Sub Crew signing banner
USS NJ Sub crew with Assemblyman Spearman.jpg

Lunch took place at the Park Place Diner in Matawan, NJ – where the sailors were welcomed warmly by the owner and other diners.

Following lunch the sailors visited Old Bridge and participated in a car wash fundraiser for the Air Force Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) at the Old Bridge High School. Afterwards the XO and crew members introduced themselves to the students and answered a number of questions about life on a submarine and how such things as fresh air and water are made while underwater.

Shown below: the sailors washing cars to raise funds for the Air Force Junior ROTC unit in Old Bridge

Old Bridge Car Wash

The next stop was at a fitness event for children at the Carl Sandburg Middle School in Old Bridge. The sailors cheered for the kids as they completed their run, then took questions from parents and children about the submarine and life aboard the boat.

The sailors then challenged some of the kids to a race the length of the football field. A couple of the sailors ‘may’ have let some of the kids beat them. This is unconfirmed!

Liberty began with dinner at Harold’s New York Deli in Edison. Huge portions that shocked a couple of the sailors!

The night was completed by committee members Dan Dermer and William Aitken taking the sailors to New Brunswick’s Stress Factory Comedy Club for some liberty time to relax a little after a full day.

At the end of the evening they were requested by the owner, Vinnie Brand, to go on stage, introduce themselves and to talk about the boat. The XO did a great job talking about why they were in New Jersey and about the upcoming commissioning.

Day 3

On Sunday October 3rd the sailors travelled up from NWS Earle (where they had been staying) to conduct some storm damage cleanup activities primarily in Manville NJ. Manville was recently hit particularly hard by Tropical Storm Ida with extensive flood damage to homes and businesses.

This cleanup operation was coordinated by a group called Hope Force International (HFI). Also attending and helping out were Troop 18 of the Scouts.

Bravo Zulu to all who helped!

In all it is believed 27 deaths occurred in NJ as a result of the storm and millions of dollars in damage occurred.

Following the cleanup the sailors returned to Virginia, knowing NJ a lot better than before.

Thanks to EVERYONE who made this visit such a success and set the bar so high for the next visit, which will hopefully take place in December. Plans are afoot – more to follow!

PCU New Jersey Sailor of the Year

On August 19th the commissioning committee travelled to Hampton Roads Navy base in Virginia to present Sailor of the Year awards recognizing the outstanding performance of two individuals from the PCU New Jersey

TORPEDOMAN SECOND CLASS (SS) TREVOR E. GARMANE, UNITED STATES NAVY

Professional achievement while serving as torpedo division leading Petty Officer onboard pre-commissioning unit New Jersey (SSN 796) from January 2020 to December 2020.

As the recreation committee president, he managed sales and events that increased morale across the command by raising over $5,000.

As command liaison with CSS-6, he led a self defense program that increased entry control watchstanders from 12 to 42 in support of 12 local submarines.

His outstanding performance of duties have set the standard for his peers to emulate and resulted in his selection as junior sailor of the year.

Petty Officer Garmane’s managerial ability, personal initiative, and unswerving devotion to duty reflected credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Committee Chairman Stephen Hutton presents Sailor of the Year certificate

MACHINIST MATE NUCLEAR FIRST CLASS (SS) NICKLAS A. HERRIN, UNITED STATES NAVY

Meritorious service while serving as a member of machinery division and as assistant quality assurance officer on board PCU New Jersey (SSN 796) from January 2019 to January 2020 . Petty Officer Herrin’s outstanding performance of duty resulted in his selection as sailor of year. Using his intrusive leadership, mentorship and guidance, he molded 13 inexperienced watchstanders into a cohesive, effective and efficient watch team.

As the assistant quality assurance officer, he instituted the command’s quality assurance program, stood up the quality assurance qualification program, and oversaw the qualification of 41 personnel completing over 150 quality assurance qualifications.

By his exceptional professionalism and selfless devotion to duty, Petty Officer Herrin reflected credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the united states naval service.

Committee Chairman Stephen Hutton presents Sailor of the Year certificate

Committee Visit To Newport News

On August 19th several committee members travelled to Hampton Roads Navy base in Virginia to present sailor the year awards

We also met the incoming CO to discuss *namesake visits and other activities the committee will be involved in with the crew of the boat.

More details and photos to come.

  • namesake visits are events where crew members of the submarine will be visiting New Jersey to building a long-term connection between the boat and the state

Raritan Bay Power Squadron Event 6/26/2021

Thanks to the RBPS for inviting us to speak at their annual picnic event at the John C. Bartlett, Jr. County Park at Berkeley Island this past weekend.

We appreciate the opportunity afforded us to present information about the PCU New Jersey*.

JROTC from Colts Neck H.S.

The Colors, Pledge of Allegiance, and Introductions

The formal portion of the event started with a presentation of the colors by the JROTC from Colts Neck High School.

This was immediately followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

The colors were then retired prior to our host (and committee member) Joseph Velez introducing Stephen Hutton (committee chairman) who gave some opening remarks and a high level presentation.

Navy League and the Origins of the Commissioning Committee

Daniel Dermer (committee secretary) then spoke about the Navy League of the United States and the Central Jersey Council in particular as a way of describing some of the specific things the council does and how the Commissioning Committee had its origins within the Navy League.

What Is A Commissioning?

Next up was Peter Engelman (committee member) who is a ‘Blue and Gold officer’ and retired US Navy Submariner. Peter really dug deeper into what a commissioning entails and our needs are, not just for donations to allow us to conduct the events we intend on, but also the need for volunteers to help organize and coordinate various activities. Peter ‘painted a picture’ for the audience on what a commissioning event really looks and feels like.

Message From The Chief Of the Boat

Peter also read a message from the Chief Of The Boat. The COB was kind enough to write a message expressing eagerness for the crew to build a relationship with their namesake state of New Jersey.

The weather cooperated and the day and location were excellent. Thanks to all involved, and we hope to conduct many more information sharing events in the future.

*PCU stands for Pre-Commissioning Unit. Only upon completion of the commissioning will the boat acquire the designation USS New Jersey

Sailor of the Year for 2019

At this year’s installation dinner for the Central Jersey Council of the Navy League of the United States the commissioning committee honored the submarine’s ‘Sailor of the Quarter’.

This was the first occasion that the committee joined with the Navy League to present an award to the submarine’s sailor of the year. The award was signed by Stephen Hutton (committee member) and Dr. Susan DiMarco (ship sponsor), and presented by Dr. DiMarco.

Dinner at Harolds

On January 24th, 2020 the CO, XO, COB and several family members sharing dinner with committee members at Harolds in Edison NJ.

Harolds is famous for outrageously large portions, which are best shared with others ‘family style’. The portion you can see bottom left is a side order of Mac & Cheese.

Committee member Stephen Hutton and his wife Janet shared the smallest sandwich they could find on the menu, pictured below:

1st Meeting With Senior Staff From The Boat

The Commanding Officer, CDR Joseph (Joe) Spinks; Executive Officer, LCDR Phil Jones; and Chief of the Boat, STSCS(SS) Hamilton T. Felt joined with committee members for an introductory dinner in New Brunswick at Old Man Rafferty’s on Thursday November 7th.

This was a great start to what we hope will be a long and fruitful relationship between the committee members and the submarine.

Present from the committee were:
Stephen Hutton, Carlton Hoye, Daniel Dermer, William Aitken, and Joe Velez.

The Battleship Welcomes the CO and Chief Of the Boat

The Battleship welcomed CDR Joseph M. Spinks, Commanding Officer, and STSCS(SS) Hamilton T. Felt, Chief of the Boat, PCU New Jersey (SSN 796)

BB-62 Battleship New Jersery

The PCU New Jersey is a Virginia-class submarine, currently under construction in Newport News, Virginia.

For more information about the visit and the Battleship New Jersey visit their site at https://www.battleshipnewjersey.org/battleship-welcomes-co-and-chief-of-pcu-new-jersey/

Keel Authentication Ceremony

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., March 25, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (NYSE: HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division hosted a keel authentication ceremony today for the Virginia-class attack submarine New Jersey (SSN 796).

“We enjoy participating in the Navy’s many traditions,” said Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding. “They offer us an opportunity to pause and reflect on our daily work and remind the talented shipbuilders and the crew of the important role we all play in something much greater than ourselves—our nation’s defense.

Keel Authentication of Virginia-Class Attack Submarine New Jersey (SSN 796)
Jess Batruk, a Newport News Shipbuilding welder originally from New Jersey, displays the welded initials of Susan DiMarco, the sponsor of submarine New Jersey (SSN 796). Also pictured (left to right) are Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding; DiMarco; and Cmdr. Joseph Spinks, the submarine’s commanding officer. Photo by Ashley Cowan/HII

Read full article at https://newsroom.huntingtoningalls.com/releases/photo-release-huntington-ingalls-industries-authenticates-keel-of-virginia-class-attack-submarine-new-jersey-ssn-796

Name of New Submarine USS New Jersey Officially Announced

On May 24th 2015, during a Memorial Day ceremony at Liberty State Park, then-Navy Secretary Ray Mabus officially announced that the USS New Jersey will be the name of a new Virginia-class submarine.

SECNAV Maybus
SECNAV Ray Maybus

Our council were honored to be invited to attend and meet SECNAV Mabus as well as to receive USS New Jersey ballcaps, handed to us by Secretary Mabus’ aide.

SECNAV Maybus and Christine Aaron
SECNAV Maybus and Navy Leaguer Christine Aaron
Christine Aaron and Daniel Dermer
Navy Leaguer Christine Aaron with committee member Daniel Dermer

Photos by Committee Member Stephen Hutton