November 2023 Newsletter

Letter from the Commissioning Committee


With five months remaining until the commissioning of the attack submarine USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796), we both cheer eagerly anticipated details of the event, and pause in reflection of Naval history.

Recently, the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, announced the official date and location for the Commissioning as April 6, 2024, at Naval Weapons Station Earle, located in Monmouth County, New Jersey (the long pier in Sandy Hook Bay).   After months of working with the US Navy through their site-selection process, we are delighted to have final confirmation that The State of New Jersey will have the rare honor of hosting the commissioning for a vessel that bears that State’s namesake.

In October, we celebrated the 248th birthday of the US Navy, which began with the purchase of four ships in Philadelphia in 1775, growing to over 291 battle force ships in present day, and soon to be joined by the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796).  Over the US Navy’s history, two other ships have previously been named USS NEW JERSEY, both battleships – BB 16 and BB 62, currently moored as a museum at Camden, NJ.

In a few days, we will also observe the 105th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the Great War on November 11th, 1918, and hold solemn remembrance for the nearly 10 million uniformed personnel and equal number of civilians who perished during this global conflict.

While thoughts of World War I conjure images of trench warfare and the introduction of tanks in Europe, on the high seas, it was the submarine that proved to be the technological advancement of that era that would most profoundly shape the future of Naval warfare.  Since then, submarines have evolved to become instruments of science in addition to their role as formidable weapons. They perform a variety of missions, including humanitarian tasking, and serve as a vital component of America’s global maritime strategy.

It is with this understanding of the past, that we marvel at our present, and look forward to the day when USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796), joins the fleet and takes her place in America’s arsenal and writes her own chapter in US Naval History.

Date, location, ticketing…

Ticket Request Now Live

We are excited to announce that we are now taking ticketing requests for the historic Commissioning of the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796)!  

What:  🇺🇸 Commissioning of the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) 🇺🇸

When:  April 6, 2024; 10am

Where:  Naval Weapons Station Earle, Leonardo, NJ


Please note the following:  

  • There are a limited number of General Public tickets. Ticket requests will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Ticket requests must be submitted by January 15, 2024.
  • All ticket requests received prior to January 15, 2024 will be submitted to the US Navy.
  • Those who qualify will receive an email invitation to attend from the US Navy.  You must RSVP to that invitation to receive a ticket.  Physical tickets will be mailed to the address you provide.
  • The USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) Commissioning Committee will not have access to ticket information or status of any ticket requests once the ticket requests have been submitted. 

We look forward to seeing you at the Commissioning!  


Thank You

Thank you to our recent sponsors:

  • Lockheed Martin
  • Johnson and Johnson
  • Greencastle Consulting
  • VFW, State of New Jersey
  • VFW Post 2290 – Manville, NJ
  • VFW Post 7767 – Medford, NJ
  • Eastchester Veterans
  • Team Eagle
  • Pt Pleasant Rotary Club
  • Bayshore Mayors Association
  • Thomas Finnegan
  • Carter Braun
  • Luis Arellano
  • Christopher Vincent

Thank you to all of those who have purchased merchandise.  It supports our fundraising efforts.

A listing of all sponsors can be found on our website –  Thank you to all.

All contributions are earmarked to directly support the crew and families, both pre and post commissioning.  Funds will be used to support future crew visits, family support, morale, welfare, and recreation events, and scholarships programs.

Giving Tuesday will be a great time to contribute.  Our social media will highlight how.  


News From The Boat

Fast Cruise and Sea Trials

Later this month the next USS New Jersey (SSN 796) will complete two major operational milestones on her path toward commissioning, Fast Cruise and Initial Sea Trials.  The submarine is presently at a Newport News Shipbuilding pier along the James River in Virginia.  After over 4-1/2 years of construction, the submarine is nearly complete, she has demonstrated operational readiness of major systems and equipment, and her crew is trained and ready to take her to sea for the first time.

Fast Cruise is a simulated underway period with the submarine remaining tied up to the pier.  The purpose is to assess the crew’s ability to safely take the ship to sea for the first time.  At the start of Fast Cruise, the submarine and crew are ready in all respects for the subsequent commencement of Initial Sea Trials.  The reactor will be started up with the power plant steaming, all utilities will be disconnected from the pier, and the crew will operate the submarine as if it is underway.  New Jersey crewmembers will station the Maneuvering Watch and simulate getting underway and transiting on the surface out to sea.  They will rig the submarine for dive, stand and rotate through all watch sections, conduct various ship-wide evolutions, and exercise each underway watch section through routine evolutions and casualty drills.  The crew will establish a normal underway routine, including taking their underway meals and sleeping in their racks.

Immediately following the successful completion of Fast Cruise New Jersey will get underway for Initial Sea Trials, also referred to as Alpha Sea Trials.  During Alpha Sea Trials New Jersey will spend several days at sea to test the boat’s systems and components.  Major testing includes submerging the submarine for the first time, checking initial water tightness, propulsion plant performance testing, high-speed maneuvers while on the surface and submerged, and testing of the emergency main ballast tank blow system.  New Jersey will also test sonar, communications, weapons systems, and auxiliary systems.  Alpha Sea Trials is an opportunity for the crew to perform and put all their training to practical use.

New Jersey is designed to carry an integrated male and female crew of 134, but during Alpha Sea Trials she is expected to have approximately 200 people on board, including representatives from the shipbuilder and senior U.S. Navy leadership.  This level of participation reflects the collective confidence and trust in the design, construction, quality, and testing of the submarine and her systems, and training and competence of the officers and crew. 

Completion of Alpha Sea Trials will be a huge milestone and justifiable source of immense pride for everyone involved including the officers and crew, U.S. Navy civilian and military leadership, government officials, thousands of suppliers from around the country, and shipbuilders from Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat.  We look forward to reporting successful completion as Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) New Jersey proceeds through the subsequent sea trials stages toward her commissioning as USS New Jersey at Naval Weapons Station Earle pier in Sandy Hook Bay on April 6, 2024.  We hope to see you there.

Coin Design Contest – FINAL DAYS!

Coin Design Content

The USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) Commissioning Committee is sponsoring a Coin Design Contest with NJ middle and high school students.  In addition to raising awareness with the students across the state, the winner will receive a $1000 scholarship and an invitation to the Commissioning Ceremony at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Leonardo, NJ on April 6, 2024.  The new design will also be minted on the back side of the official Commissioning Coin which will be available to purchase at the commissioning.  


  • Must be a high school or middle school student who is a resident of New Jersey.
  • Each student may submit one entry.
  • The coin design should fit within a circle of 2″ in diameter (one side only).
  • Each entry should include a sketch of the coin design along with a brief explanation of its symbolism and significance. Include your name, your school’s name, and county.
  • Submit designs to

Submissions must be received by November 15.  If you know someone who is interested is submitting a design, please share this information. 

New Merchandise

Happy Holidays!

Plenty of new OFFICIAL SSN 796 merchandise has arrived in the store, including collectible shot glasses, classic holiday ornaments, and cozy sweatshirts.  Plan your early holiday shopping at .

Exciting Collaboration with Rowan University – Empowering Future PR Professionals!

Dear USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) Supporters,

We are thrilled to share some exciting news with you. Your support has already helped us achieve remarkable milestones, and now, we are taking another step forward in our mission to make a positive impact on our community. We are delighted to announce a collaboration with Rowan University’s Department of Public Relations & Advertising.

This partnership will help us harness the power of research and education. The students will be using data from a provided survey to support their coursework – bridging the gap between academia and real-world public relations practice. Resulting recommendations will enable the committee to modify its messaging in a way that promotes deeper understanding to a larger pool of New Jersey residents.

Commissioning Date and Location are Official!

The Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, has officially announced that the Virginia-class fast attack submarine NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) will be commissioned in New Jersey at the pier of Naval Weapons Station Earle on April 6th, 2024.

NWS Earle

We will be providing a mechanism for requesting tickets to the event shortly. All requests will be forwarded to the US Navy for their handling, the committee does not control the allocation of tickets to the general public.

We hope you are as excited for this event as we are!

Crew and Committee Visit NJ Air National Guard

Crew members from the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) visited the 177th Fighter Wing, NJANG located at the Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. The visit took place in August towards the end of our last ‘namesake visit’ where we bring crew members to New Jersey.

Hosted by Deputy Wing Commander, Colonel Aaron Dunn, the crew, including Winfred Cameron, learned about the federal, state, and community vision and values of the Fighter Wing. The crew also visited Maintenance Ops where they learned about the important requirements and dedicated service to the Fighter Wing, both in front and behind the scenes. Lastly, they visited the Fighter Wing Base F-16 simulators where the crew took turns “flying” and F-16! They experienced the in-flight realism with smiles and awe for what professional airmen must undergo in their training.

While at the 177th, the crew got an up close and personal look at the Air Force Thunderbirds who were just getting ready to depart the area after their wonderful performance at the Atlantic City Air Show – Thunder Over the Boardwalk.

This visit was one of the many highlights of our namesake visit!

SSN-796 Visits BB-62 to Round Out Another Great Namesake Visit

As with every crew visit to New Jersey we try to ensure a tour of the Battleship New Jersey (BB-62) is included. This time was no exception and the crew members from the new USS NEW JERSEY (SSN-796) visited and got the great welcome they always receive.

And another ‘tradition’ we have is that visiting crew members sign a banner, which as you can see, is filling up! You tell from this just how many crew members we’ve helped bring up to introduce to NJ!

George Goldhoff, President of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

While the crew of the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) were in town earlier this month, we had the pleasure of meeting George Goldhoff, President of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

Mr Goldhoff shared the Hard Rock story with us and the motto on which the company is founded, “Love All-Serve All, Take Time To Be Kind, Save The Planet, and All Is One.” Mr. Goldhoff also took us on a short tour.

Visitors to the Hard Rock frequently thanked and greeted the sailors as we were taken around to see the various restaurants, memorabilia and more.

Mr. Goldhoff also treated the group to such at the iconic Whitehouse Sub. Subs for submariners!

Thank you so much for your hospitality!

Crew and Committee Members Visit the EHT Police Activities League

Crew members of the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796), including Chief of the Boat, Winfred Cameron, visited the EHT Police Activities League last week while they were in NJ as part of the Commissioning Committee’s namesake program. Accompanied by Ocean First Foundation’s Executive Director, Kathy Durante, and Vice President of Commercial Lending, Jeff RopieckiHector Tavarez, EHT PAL Executive Director, and Michelle Stella Riordan (Williams), STEM Director, hosted us as several very impressive members of the STEM program shared their projects with the crew. 

Younger campers had the opportunity to ask the crew questions about the newest submarine to be commissioned to the United States Navy and their experiences as submariners. We were all very impressed with the overall program. Well done, EHT PAL!

Photo credits go to Michelle Riordan. Thank you.

Crew and Committee Visit  the Millville Army Air Field Museum

Big shout out and heartfelt thank you to Lisa Jester and Steve Graham from the Millville Army Air Field Museum, Barry Smith from Smith & Jackson Military Antiques and Firearms, and Jen and Paul Simmons from Glasstown Brewery who hosted crew members of USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) for a museum tour and a “Meet and Greet” with museum volunteers, members, and guests. 

In spite of a few raindrops and occasional clap of thunder, guests were able to mingle with the crew, take photos, and ask questions.

Crew and Committee Visit the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City

On PCU NEW JERSEY (SSN 796)’s recent namesake visit to New Jersey, the crew visited the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City. We were able to tour the facility and see the great work Dr. Charles A. Wallace II, CNED and his team are doing with some of the young people of Atlantic City. Students were able to ask the sailors questions about life on a submarine and careers in the Navy. Special thanks go to Sean Pattwell and Tom Meehan from the CRDA for arranging this special event.

If you are on Linked-In please consider following and sharing our posts there to help spread the word about the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796), the commissioning committee –

All donations will be used to support the crew and the commissioning events leading up to the USS NEW JERSEY joining the fleet. We intend to have sufficient remaining funds after her commissioning to create a scholarship program for the crew and their families.

New Jersey State Police Host Dinner for Crew and Committee

Several crew members of PCU NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) are in New Jersey this week as part of the Commissioning Committee’s namesake visit initiative.  On August 15th 2023, Troop Commander Major Michael A. Krzyzkowski of the New Jersey State Police hosted dinner for the group at Killarney’s Publick House in Hamilton, NJ. 

Thank you, Major Krzyzkowski (top left), for your support and generosity.

The Boat is Now In-Service

New milestone since the boat completed ‘the first meal’ on June 30th, 2023

The official naval register website has changed the PCU NEW JERSEY’s status from new construction to in-service.

What does this mean? The crew can now officially live aboard the submarine, take their meals aboard, and see their compensation altered to match this new status.

  • They received certification to cook meals on the boat.
  • They received certification to live on the boat.
  • They received certification to handle their own security.


Press Release from the shipyard: HII Celebrates First Meal Aboard Virginia-Class Submarine New Jersey (SSN 796) – HII

‘First Meal’ Aboard the PCU NEW JERSEY

On Friday June 30th commissioning committee members Stephen Hutton, Peter Engelman, Julianne Dobs, and Timi Lindsay, were honored to be allowed to join the command and crew of the PCU NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) as they celebrated the first meal aboard the boat. This is a significant milestone in bringing boat to life allowing the crew to potentially berth aboard and eat aboard the submarine from that point on.

Seen above Dr. Susan DiMarco (ship’s sponsor) and committee member Peter Engelman share the ‘first meal’ with crew members aboard the PCU NEW JERSEY (SSN 796)

The ship’s sponsor Dr. Susan DiMarco, and her son Jeh Johson Jr. were among the guests aboard this day. In addition to breaking bread with the crew we were all afforded a tour of the boat as she her systems and facilities come together. The meal was excellent and left us truly impressed with what the culinary specialists are able to accomplish in such tight quarters.

Seen above – Culinary Specialists and crew members who prepared and served the ‘first meal’ aboard the PCU NEW JERSEY (SSN 796)

Dr Susan DiMarco

Seen above Dr. Susan DiMarco (ship’s sponsor) shares ‘first meal’ with crew members aboard the PCU NEW JERSEY (SSN 796)

The crew and officers were gracious and took the time to explain the numerous systems and their functions (or at least what they were allowed to) and it was clear that this vessel has considerable communication and system advantages that make her superbly efficient for conducting her future missions.

Thanks to the CO, XO, COB and everyone else involved in making this a truly memorable visit!

We look forward to announcing, hopefully soon, the date and location of the PCU NEW JERSEY’s commissioning.

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.    

Thank You to Our Most Recent Donors

Electric Boat
Northrup Grumman
R McGoey (CAPT USN (ret))
Susan DiMarco
Spring Lake Rotary

View Our Sponsor List

Elizabeth Week Kicks Off!

[Elizabeth, NJ – April 3rd, 2023] The crew of the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) visited the ELIZABETH PUBLIC SCHOOLS and the City of Elizabeth as part of a namesake visit to the State of New Jersey to further the relationships between the boat and its namesake, the state of New Jersey, and to raise awareness of the upcoming commissioning of the US Navy‘s newest Virginia Class submarine.

Elizabeth School 28
The crew received an amazing welcome at School 28 in Elizabeth, NJ

The New Jersey Commissioning Committee is partnering 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 to more formally recognize Elizabeth, NJ as the Birthplace of the United States Submarine Force.

Mayor Bollwage’s ‘Our City’ Event for Elizabeth. NJ

Thanks to Mayor Bollwage of the City of Elizabeth, NJ for hosting a Q&A with Commander Steven Halle (CO of the submarine PCU NEW JERSEY), and Stephen Hutton, Chairman of the Commissioning Committee.

We explained the purpose of a commissioning committee, and shared information about life aboard a submarine. We also talked specifically about the to-be commissioned submarine being completed at the Huntingdon Ingalls Industry shipyards in Virginia, the USS NEW JERSEY. Elizabeth, New Jersey was where the very first commissioned US Navy Submarine was constructed: the USS HOLLAND (SS-1).


This was an important part of a week’s worth of events in and around Elizabeth, NJ as we celebrated what is considered to be the birthplace of the US Navy’s Submarine Force. Elizabeth was the city where the very first US Navy submarine ever to be commissioned was built: the USS Holland (SS-1).

She was acquired by the USN on 11 April 1900 and commissioned on 12 October 1900, Lieutenant H. H. Caldwell commanding.

‘Namesake’ Visit to NJ Starts on the BB62

[Camden, NJ April 2, 2023] As usual we kicked off our most recent crew visit from the USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) with a visit to the prior USS NEW JERSEY, the Battleship New Jersey (BB 62). It’s a tradition now that the visiting crewmembers sign a banner to show they’ve visited the battleship. Pictured below are two of the first female enlisted personnel to visit as part of these events.

Signing the banner

Some of the rest of the crew having just driven up from Virginia to begin their ‘namesake’ visit to NJ.

Casual on the BB 62

The submarine has only recently begun to receive female enlisted crew members to join their ranks. The NEW JERSEY is the first in her class of submarines to be designed and built with the intent of supporting a fully integrated male/female crew. This allows the Navy to widen the pool of talented individuals that they can assign to our nation’s submarines.

Thank you to the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial for hosting several of the crew of the newest USS NEW JERSEY (SSN 796). Special thanks to Jack Willard for hosting and Timi Lindsay and Joe Lario for being there to welcome the crew! Eight members of the crew are visiting New Jersey this week on a namesake visit to continue to build a strong relationship between the boat and its namesake, the State of New Jersey, including Commanding Officer Steven Halle, STSCM Hamilton Felt – Chief of the Boat, ENS Lillian Baker, ETN2 Joy Shirey, STS2 Kenny Ortega, MMN3 Kianna Gonzales, LSSA Ocean Bouck, and FTSR Amelia Fast.


Today (11/18/22) crew members from the new Virginia-class fast attack submarine PCU NEW JERSEY (SSN 796) visited the Naval ROTC unit at Rutgers University. This visit is part of our committee’s continuing efforts to bring the crew to her namesake state to conduct youth outreach, community service projects, cultural and historical activities, and corporate introductions.

Our goal is to build a long-term relationship between our state and the submarine for the life of the boat.

Some quotes from crew members during the presentations and Q&A:

“Jersey is the pilot platform, first fast attack to have a fully integrated crew with female enlisted submariners. In fact, we get our first female Chief in 3 weeks”

“Navy nuclear training is like College 3.0.  I had no idea how much I would learn … then when I got on board and looked at my qualification card requirements I thought, I don’t know any of this stuff”

Continuing education and development is ‘part and parcel’ of being in the US Navy’s submarine force.

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.

*Correction: hosted by USW local 10-00086 and USW Local 12698

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:

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.

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. 


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.