May 2023 Newsletter

Greetings From The NJ Submarine Commissioning Committee

It is an honor to be part of the commissioning of the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796).  We are working diligently to ensure that all i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed – our goal is to have “the best commissioning ever.”

There is a great deal of behind the scenes work being done to ensure that the crew is recognized, honored, and supported – for both the commissioning week and time afterwards.  They deserve it!

Simultaneously, we are diligently investigating ways to “tell the story” – of the navy, of submarines, of the USS NEW JERSEY, and of the crew.  This newsletter is one of the vehicles.  We hope you enjoy it, and pass it along to friends and family.

Social Media will play a big role in our communication.

Feel free to use your social media skills to help us spread the word.

Lastly – we will be engaging in relationships with newspapers, radio stations, etc. to provide another medium to inform the public.  Be on the look-out.

It will be a great ride.  We’ll make sure that you stay informed.  Enjoy!!

~ Peter Engelman, Treasurer and Trustee

News From The Boat

The crew of PCU NEW JERSEY started out the month of April prepping for and successfully completing the Reactor Safeguard Exam certifying the crew for initial criticality and Power Range Steam Testing (PRST).

The crew will now go into the shift work until Steam Testing is complete. On April 14th, NEW JERSEY Celebrated the Submarine Community by attending the Submarine Birthday Ball in Virginia Beach, VA. The ball was a major success and was led by the Master of Ceremony COB STSCM Hamilton Felt. As the AFT portion of the boat completes PRST, FWD departments will continue training toward Sea Trial Operations and delivering PCU NEW JERSEY to the Naval Fleet.

Introducing Our Newest Trustee

Mike Zimmerman has joined the Commissioning Committee as its newest Trustee. Mr. Zimmerman recently retired from the New Jersey State Police after nearly three decades of service. During his tenure he was known to be a highly accomplished law enforcement leader with a proven track record in directing multiple large-scale operations. Throughout this time, he served in all branches of the organization, successfully developing and executing new initiatives and overhauling workflow to enhance capabilities and achieve organizational objectives.

Prior to his retirement, Mr. Zimmerman was the Field Operations Commanding Officer, which held the honor of commanding over 1,700 uniformed Troopers who encountered millions of citizens a year. In this position he planned, coordinated, and supervised major multi-county events, and partnered with Federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and the United States Secret Service. In addition, he served as the Operations Section Chief for New Jersey’s deployment and relief effort in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. He facilitated the diversification of the high-profile Tactical Patrol Unit, and assumed Incident Command for many planned and emergent events in New Jersey.

Mr. Zimmerman previously held the position of Adjunct Professor at Monmouth University’s Graduate Criminal Justice Program, and New Jersey City University’s Professional Security Studies Program. He received his undergraduate degree from Richard Stockton University and postgraduate degree from Seton Hall University.

Concurrent to his service to the State of New Jersey, Mr. Zimmerman is a dedicated father of two young men and servant to the community. He served as a mentor and coach to many youth sports. He was the past president of the local Parent Teacher Organization, and volunteered for countless organizations. 

Elizabeth, NJ – The Birthplace of the United States Submarine Force

The birthday of the United States Submarine Force is April 11. Numerous military units and veterans’ organizations celebrate this special day every year with ballroom dinners, ceremonies, proclamations of remembrance, and more. Conspicuously absent from these Submarine Birthday celebrations is any mention or recognition of the Submarine Birthplace: Elizabeth, New Jersey.

John Philip Holland built the first modern submarine. He is known as the father of the modern submarine, creating the first underwater vessel purchased by the United States. He was a school teacher in Ireland who immigrated to Paterson, New Jersey, where he obtained a teaching position. The New Jersey inventor built a submersible vehicle powered by foot pedals in 1873. The U.S. Navy rejected this variation of the submarine. He sought to keep trying, and by 1875, he was able to launch his first submarine. It was built to carry torpedoes and be fixed onto the bottom of a ship. This version was divided into four compartments with air chambers and pipes leading to the middle, where Holland would use the foot pedals and a diver helmet to move the propellers.

John Phillip Holland would be persistent in evolving his submarine. It would take up to 26 years until 1899 in Elizabeth, NJ, where Holland made the “Holland VI” submarine that was launched from the Port of Elizabeth and sailed to Washington, DC via the Delaware River and the Raritan Canal. When Holland VI arrived in Washington, DC, it went through a series of trials by the U.S. Navy. Holland’s submarine passed the naval board of inspection and would be purchased by the U.S Navy for $165,000. This landed John Philip Holland as the inventor of the modern submarine and Elizabeth, NJ, as the Birthplace of the United States Submarine Force.

Namesake Visit to Elizabeth, NJ

The Commissioning Committee partnered with the City of Elizabeth, the Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, the Elizabeth Destination Marketing Organization, and the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs in recognizing the role that Elizabeth, NJ has played in the development of the US Submarine Force and more formally recognize Elizabeth, NJ as the Birthplace of the United States Submarine Force.  

While in Elizabeth, the crew attended assemblies at Juan Pablo Duarte – Jose Julian Marti School No. 28, the site where Electric Boat, now a subsidiary of General Dynamics, built and launched the USS HOLLAND (SS-1) on 11 April, 1900.  A total of 900 middle school students were in attendance.  Several proclamations and letters of recognition were presented to Mayor Christian Bollwage, highlighting the history and partnership with the City of Elizabeth.  The crew also attended an assembly at Admiral Halsey High School with the junior ROTC program where the cadets were able to interact with the crew and learn more about careers in the US Navy.  Students from the culinary academy served a very impressive lunch to all in attendance, a crowd of over 250! 

Eight members of the crew, including Captain Steven Halle, made the trip from Norfolk, VA, where the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) is in its final stages of construction, to Elizabeth, NJ early April.  

Along the way, the crew stopped in Camden, NJ, to tour the Battleship New Jersey (BB 62), the second of three Navy vessels to share the name “New Jersey.”  

Mayor Bollwage’s TV show – SPT Television

In addition to the visits to the school, the crew and members of the Commissioning Committee appeared on the Mayor’s TV show and SPT Television, discussing the construction and upcoming commissioning of the boat and sharing their experiences in the Navy. 

Commander Steven Halle, CO of the USS NEW JERSEY; and Stephen Hutton, Chairman of the Commissioning Committee

Seen here Commander Steven Halle, CO of the USS NEW JERSEY; and Stephen Hutton, Chairman of the Commissioning Committee

Special Thanks

Jennifer Costa, President of the Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce was a gracious host and tour guide throughout the week, introducing the crew and committee to local businesses and organizations including Community Access Unlimited, IKEA, First Presbyterian Church, Imperial Ring, Roc’s Bakery, and the Newark Airport. 

Thanks also to the Elizabeth Police Department for helping make sure we got wherever we needed to be on time. A great group that make a hard job look easy!

Local Cuisine – Thanks to Elizabeth Police Department and the Elizabeth PBA Local #4

The Elizabeth Police Department and the Elizabeth PBA Local #4 hosted the crew and committee to a delicious dinner at Valenca Restaurant. We were joined by Ship’s Sponsor, Dr. Susan DiMarco and Elizabeth’s Mayor Bollwage.

Martinho and Teresa Pereira established Valenca Restaurant in 1989 bringing traditional Portuguese delicacies and trademark hospitality to Elizabeth.  The food and service were fantastic! 

The USS NEW JERSEY Visits The New Jersey Devils!

Tuesday evening of our visit, the crew were able to interact with several fans at the NJ Devils game. The Devils showed their strength in a victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1.

Highlights included the ship’s crew being announced to the cheering crowd of thousands while the ship’s crest and crew members were shown on the giant screens for all to see. The crew circulated around the arena meeting fans as well as being greeted by Jake Reynolds, President of HB Sports & Entertainment; and Jim Leonard, SVP Government Relations & Foundations for HB Sports & Entertainment. The Devils organization presented a ‘Jersey’ Jersey for the NEW JERSEY.

Status of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour

Before leaving the Elizabeth area, the crew had an early morning tour of the Statue of Liberty.  Although the views were somewhat diminished due to the weather, the crew climbed the 354 steps to the crown of Lady Liberty.  While there, the crew were able to meet several other guests, including Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.

Presentation to Johnson & Johnson

On the way back to Norfolk, the crew stopped for a visit with team members at Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick.  Captain Steven A. Halle, together with Joseph Velez, a Trustee with the Commissioning Committee, presented a plaque to John Perez, Head of Military and Veterans Affairs, and Gina Fritz, Manager of FM Services, in recognition of J&J’s continued support of the boat and her crew.  

The four day “Namesake” visit was quite a success. 

The Committee is planning its next multi-day visit for August
to coincide with the Atlantic City Air Show.    

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