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’.

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.

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 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.