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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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!