MAKE YOUR DEPTH 400 FEET, AHEAD FLANK

Farewell USS Bremerton (SSN-698)

CAPT. Tom Anderson’s Decommissioning Ceremony Speech – transcribed as written

COMMODORE MASSIE, MAYOR WHEELER, CAPTAIN LINDBERG, THE HONORABLE PATTY LENT, CAPT ZWOLFER, CAPT LOGAN, CAPT BEAM,

HONORED GUESTS AND FAMILIES, AND ESPECIALLY FORMER AND PRESENT CREW MEMBERS OF BREMERTON, WHEREVER YOU MAY BE WATCHING THIS CEREMONY.

IT WAS A COLD AND DARK NOVEMBER MORNING WHEN A BLACK FORM BACKED QUIETLY FROM THE ELECTRIC BOAT SHIPYARD INTO THE THAMES RIVER. IT WAS NOT YET USS BREMERTON. TWO DAYS LATER SHE RETURNED FROM HER FIRST TASTE OF THE OPEN SEA. ADMIRAL RICKOVER, WHO HAD BEEN ABOARD WROTE “I CONSIDER THAT BREMERTON PERFORMED THE REQUIRED TESTS MORE EXPERTLY THAN ANY OTHER OF THE MORE THAN 120 NUCLEAR POWERED SHIPS I HAVE RIDDEN ON INITIAL SEA TRIALS.” THAT TWO DAYS IS BUT A VERY BRIEF SLICE OF TIME FOR A SHIP THAT MOST OF US COULD NOT BELIEVE WOULD BE HERE MORE THAN 40 YEARS LATER. YOU KNOW 40 YEARS IS ONE THIRD OF THE TIME THAT THE US NAVY’S SUBMARINE FORCE HAS BEEN IN EXISTENCE.

HOW WAS IT POSSIBLE? WELL, THERE WERE ABOUT 1600 DEDICATED, PROFESSIONAL SUBMARINERS WHO MADE IT HAPPEN. IF TIME ALLOWED, I CERTAINLY WOULD LIKE TO RECOGNIZE EACH ONE PERSONALLY. I WILL SINGLE OUT ONE THOUGH, THE FIRST CHIEF OF THE BOAT, MASTER CHIEF PAUL GAGNON. HE KEPT THE CREW ON TRACK AND FOCUSSED DURING THAT LONG AND TRYING CONSTRUCTION PERIOD, MARRED BY SOME INCOMPLETE WELDS. ONCE BREMERTON GOT OUT OF THE BUILDING YARD AND DOING WHAT SUBMARINES ARE SUPPOSED TO DO, AS DIVING OFFICER OF THE WATCH, HE COULD MAINTAIN DEPTH WITHIN AN INCH OF WHAT WAS ORDERED. COB, IF YOU ARE WATCHING, THANK YOU. THEN THERE WAS SUPPORT FROM MANY OTHERS ALL ALONG. THE SUB BASE AND SHIPYARD PEOPLE WHO HELPED MAKE THE 40 YEARS POSSIBLE. AND WIVES, FAMILIES, AND LOVED ONES WERE A VITALPART OF BREMERTON’S SUCCESS.

NOW AS A WARSHIP BREMERTON SEEMED TO HAVE A KNACK FOR DOING THINGS A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY. AFTER TOO LONG IN THE BUILDING YARD IT WAS AS IF SHE WANTED TO ESCAPE THE COLD WINTERS ON THE EAST COAST AND HEAD TO WARM AND SUNNY HAWAII. BUT, SHE TOOK THE LONG ROUTE, BYPASSING THE SLOW SPEEDS OF THE PANAMA CANAL, SHE BARELLED DOWN THE ATLANTIC, CROSSING THE EQUATOR, THROUGH THE INDIAN OCEAN TO HER FIRST FOREIGN PORT VISIT IN PERTH, AUSTRALIA. SHE ROLLED OFF THE BLOCKS IN DRYDOCK ONE TIME, BUT RIGHTED HERSELF TO KEEP GOING. WHEN DOZENS OF FIVE INCH ROUNDS FROM SURFACE SHIPS FAILED TO SINK THE HULK OF THE NEW CARISSA, BREMERTON ANSWERED THE CALL AND FINISHED THE JOB WITH A SINGLE TORPEDO. THAT BACKS UP A STATEMENT MADE YEARS AGO BY AN ENGLISH ADMIRAL THAT YOU DON’T SINK SHIPS BY POKING HOLES IN THEIR TOPSIDES BUT YOU SINK THEM BY POKING HOLES IN THEIR BOTTOMS. PROVED IT. IN ADDITION TO A REALLY COOL OFFICIAL EMBLEM, THE COIN VERSION OF WHICH I AM TOLD IS ALSO USEFUL FOR REMOVING BOTTLE CAPS, THERE IS THE ONE FOR BADFISH. I AM TOLD THAT THIS ORIGINATED FROM THE WIVES GROUP AT SOME POINT. BADFISH! WHAT A NICKNAME. AND OF COURSE A VIRTUAL CEREMONY SUCH AS THIS MAY BE BREMERTON’S WAY OF DOING IT DIFFERENTLY. IT’S NOT COMPLETELY TRADITIONAL, BUT THROUGH TECHNOLOGY MORE SHIPMATES ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE THAN WOULD BE POSSIBLE IN THE PAST.

THOSE OF US WHO HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF SERVING ON ANY SHIP HAVE BUT A BRIEF PERIOD OF TIME ON IT, BE IT TWO, THREE OR FOUR YEARS. A LUCKY FEW MAY HAVE MORE THAN ONE TOUR. BUT MOST OF US CONTINUE TO HAVE AN ATTACHMENT TO AND AFFECTION FOR A SHIP LONG AFTER WE DEPART. WE SOMETIMES WONDER HOW SHE CONTINUES TO DO. IS SHE DOING WELL OR HAVING SOME BAD LUCK? THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUS NOW. IN KEEPING WITH THE TRADITIONS OF THE SILENT SERVICE, MUCH OF BREMERTON’S OPERATIONAL RECORDS ARE, OF COURSE, LOCKED AWAY IN VAULTS SOMEWHERE. AS INDIVIDUALS THOUGH, WE HAVE MEMORIES OF THE GOOD AND SOMETIMES NOT SO GOOD TIMES WE HAD ABOARD. THE LAUGHS, GROANS, JOKES, COMPLAINTS, SEA STORIES, CHEERING AN ACEY DUECY WIN, SNORING OF THE GUY BELOW, AS WELL AS THE BLARING OF 1MC AND DIVING ALARM ARE BITS OF WHAT WE HEARD. DID BREMERTON HAVE A REAL KLAXON? AND NEED I MENTION THAT SHE WAS THE BEST FEEDER I HAVE KNOWN. AND OF COURSE THERE ARE THE PORT CALLS IN EXOTIC AND SOMETIMES ISOLATED PLACES. I SUSPECT THAT NOW IN THE HORSE AND COW AND ELSEWHERE, IN THE BEST ORAL TRADITION OF MY FELLOW TUBE DWELLERS, MANY SUBMARINE STORIES ARE PRESENTLY BEING REVISITED AND REVISED.

I’D LIKE TO ACKNOWLEDGE CAPTAIN LINDBERG AND HIS CREW FOR TAKING CARE OF THE OL’ GAL IN HER FINAL DAYS. DESPITE THE CHALLENGES OF COVID AND SECURITY, THEY HAVE MADE THIS OCCASION SPECIAL. A COMPLETLY TRADITIONAL CEREMONY WAS NOT POSSIBLE, BUT IN THE SPIRIT OF THE 698, THEY FIGURED HOW TO DO IT WELL, IN TRUE BADFISH TRADITION. I COULD NOT FIND AN OFFICIAL OR UNOFFICIAL NAME FOR THE FINAL CREW, BUT THEY CERTAINLY DESERVE ONE. THEIR TASK IS NOT EASY. THE COB SUGGESTED TO ME THAT THAY BE CALLED BAD ASSES. THEY ARE THE LAST TO CARE FOR AND KNOW THE SECRETS AND STORIES OF THIS SPECIAL SUBMARINE. THANK YOU, GENTLEMEN.

TO SERVE ON THE SECOND SHIP TO BEAR THE NAME BREMERTON WAS AN HONOR. IN MY OPINION THE SHIPYARD HERE WAS THE BEST PLACE, NAVY OR PRIVATE, TO HAVE MAJOR WORK DONE ON A SHIP. MOST CITIES OF WHICH BOATS OF THIS CLASS WERE NAMED DO NOT HAVE THE CONNECTION AND IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP TO THE NAVY AS DOES THE CITY OF BREMERTON. MAYOR WHEELER, I THANK THE PEOPLE OF THIS PROUD NAVY TOWN FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND HOSPITALITY OVER THE YEARS. IT HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE. MAY SOMEDAY ANOTHER SHIP AGAIN BEAR THE NAME OF YOUR FAIR CITY.

WE NOW BID FAREWELL TO A SHIP THAT HAS KEPT US SAFE AND PROTECTED OUR GREAT NATION OVER FOUR DECADES, CREWED BY THE FINEST TO WEAR DOLPHINS. ALL OF YOU AT THE HORSE AND COW OR WHEREVER YOU MAY BE WATCHING, I ASK THAT YOU RAISE A GLASS TO THE OL’ GAL, THE FASTEST, LUCKY 698, AMERICAN CLASSIC, BOLDFISH, BADFISH, OR SIMPLY THE BOAT, AS USS BREMERTON (SSN 698) DEPARTS ON HER FINAL PATROL. WHAT I THINK SHE MIGHT LIKE TO HEAR AS FINAL WORDS IS THE COMMAND “MAKE YOUR DEPTH 400 FEET, AHEAD FLANK.”

CAPTAIN LINDBERG, THE CONN IS YOURS.

 

 

Image: The Spirit of USS Bremerton (SSN-698) “Make your depth 400 feet, ahead flank.” – CAPT. Tom Anderson, Decommissioning Ceremony, May 18, 2021. Bremertonreunion.net staff artist

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Bell & Shirt Dedication by CAPT Anderson

At the Horse & Cow in Bremerton, WA, on the eve of the Decommissioning Ceremony, a restaurant full of USS Bremerton alumni and crew, with drinks in hand, gathered with deep respect for the man who was the Los Angeles Class fast attack submarine’s first Commanding Officer, plankowner CAPT. Tom Anderson.

As he stood at the center of the main floor he shared his thoughts about the new home for this ceremonial ship’s bell.

 

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The BELL DEDICATION

 

“First of all, it’s GREAT to see everyone here, it’s fantastic… What I really want to do here is, this bell that was at the last reunion, it was something that I got and I was very lucky. But the luckiest I ever got was to serve as the CO of the USS Bremerton …”

[big cheers]

 

“… here is my thought, I’m not going to spend too many more years on this planet, I don’t really want it to go where I go, but it needs to go to somebody or something. Since I’m probably the oldest crewmember, it might be appropriate to go to the oldest crewmember, but then you have to think about  ‘when that person passes how do we find the next one?’

“It should remain in some place appropriate where [people] can see it and enjoy it, so… is this the place?”

[ a great chorus of approval]

“Who’s in charge of the Horse & Cow?”

[audience encourages the owner forward, front and center]

Capt Anderson continues, “If this remains here, or whichever way you put it, the tradition should be if some patron comes in and rings the bell, simply because they see it, what happens?

[crowd erupts “THEY GOTTA BUY ANOTHER ROUND]

“… so, if somebody doesn’t really know that, can get to it and see if it really works… then the rest is history.”

 

 

The SHIRT DEDICATION

 

“The last little thing, it may be offensive to a few people here… I notice the Parche has a T-Shirt up there, but at one time in my career, and this was after I left Bremerton, I was on my way to become the CO of the Blue Crew of Ohio.  Somebody, I don’t remember who, gave me this fine piece of wearing apparel….and I’ll hold it up so everyone can see it”

[crowd erupts in laughter and approval]

 

 

 

Captain ANDERSON writes a personal inscription on the now famous shirt

 

 

I’d like to thank Plankowner Tom MacPhillips for the video I used to transcribe the CAPT’s speech and capture some images and Plankowner John Scanlan for the photos

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PRE DECOMMISSIONING GATHERING AT THE HORSE & COW

 

Photos and Images

Bremerton Captain’s Chris Lindberg, Alan Beam ((CO#3), and Tom Anderson, plankowner and CO #1
Front: Martin “Bubba ” Russell, Joel Walton, Donald Jones, Tom McPhillips. Back: Dave Morris, Conrad Bilgrien, Frank Hamilton
Bobby Schmidt and Greg Carroll
Bill Patterson, Juan Acosta and Joel Walton
Dave “SpIzZ” Withers, Chris Friesen, Jim Baker, and Marty Russell
John Brunkalla, and Tim Payne. Back: Conrad Bilgrien
Rich Crombie and Bob Schmidt
The owner of the Horse and Cow and Capt Anderson. Capt Beam seated in background in green sweater
Oh, yeh, not making any buddies on the boomer side….

 

John Scanlan’s “before and after challenge”
Barbara and Bob Schmidt
The LAST CO and the FIRST
Mrs Lindberg
The OWNER

 

Dave Shaw
Chris Shinn
Ron Shirey
Greg Carroll
Matt Weber
Tom McPhilllips
Don Jones
Joe Polizotti
Sean Hankin
Conrad Bilgrien
Mike Trail
John Esau
Rich Boltin
Marty Russell
Frank Hamilton
Tom Canter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Joel Walton, Rich Crombie, Bill Patterson, Juan Acosta, John Scanlan, Bob Schmidt, and probably missed someone, also Facebook Live by Joel Walton and Rich Crombie

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Senior Enlisted Plankowner to attend Ceremony

Senior Enlisted Plankowner at Commissioning to attend the Decommissioning Ceremony

On May 18th, 2021 for the USS Bremerton’s (SSN-698) Decommissioning Ceremony at Keyport, Washington, a senior enlisted plankowner was selected to take one of the rare seats available.  This year was not possible to have more than 50 participants/attendees due to the strict COVID safety regulations observed by the Navy.

With respect to the late Bremerton plankowner and Chief-of-the-Boat, CMDCM(SS) Paul H. Gagnon, one seat was offered to the most senior enlisted man present at the Commissioning who also is expected to attend the Decommissioning Reunion in Bremerton.

When retired Senior Chief Gregory Carroll signed up to join the reunion in Bremerton, little did he know what was in store for him. He expected to be reunited with several of his fellow shipmates and plankowners including STSCS(SS)  Gordon “Gordy” Jennings USN (ret.) (a “Son of Bremerton”) and  ETCS(SS) Donald Jones  USN (ret.), but Senior Chief Carroll was then STS1(SS) Greg Carroll on the day of Commissioning (and with respect to other requirements set forth by the current Command) was selected to represent all enlisted plankowners and alumni who are unable to attend the ceremony in person.

Other Plankowners expected to attend the reunion are retired Navy submariners, CAPT. Tom Anderson, USN (ret), the first Commanding Officer of USS Bremerton (who is expected to speak at the ceremony), Conrad Bilgrien,  John Brunkalla, ICC(SS) Clemon Cager USN (ret.) , Frank Hamilton, Sean Hankin, CDR. Karl Jensen USN (ret) ,  Jeff Johnson, Thomas McPhillips, EMC(SS) Timothy Payne USN (ret.),  John Scanlan, CAPT. David Withers USAF (ret), and ICC(SS) Russ Woods USN (ret.).

 

 

Here’s a brief bio on our guy…

 

Gregory V. Carroll STSCS(SS) USN Ret.

 

Gregory was born in 1954 and raised in Cape May Court House, New Jersey. He enlisted in the Navy in March 1975.

After completion of Submarine Sonar “A” School at Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center Pacific he reported to the USS Thomas Jefferson SSBN-618 Blue where he served from Dec 1975 until Jan 1978. He then returned to FLEASWTRACENPAC to attend Sonar “A-2” and “C” Schools and AN/BQQ-5 Advanced Maintenance Practices from Mar 78 until Mar 79.

In Dec 78 he married Jolyn Carter who was from Eagle, CO.

He reported to the PCU Bremerton SSN-698 in Apr 79 and served on her until May 1982 as a Sonar Supervisor.

Greg Carroll and Capt. Tom Anderson.

Gregory then received orders to COMSUBPAC Staff and was assigned to the Tactical Weapons Training and Certification Team until July 1984.

In Aug. of 1984 he reported to COMNAVSEASYSCOM where he was the Sonar representative on the SUBACS Operability Review Team (SORT) and worked on the Seawolf SSN-21 design and arrangements.

Greg Carroll makes Chief accompanied by his wife, Jolyn.

Gregory then reported to PCU San Juan SSN-751 serving as Sonar Leading Chief Petty Officer and the Combat System Departmental LCPO.

Dec 1988 he again reported to COMNAVSEASYSCOM where he served as Chief Engineer for RADM Doug Volgenau PEO-Submarine Combat and Weapons Systems until 1993 where he was transferred to PMS-450 the Virginia Class Submarine Program Office.

Gregory retired from the Navy in July 1995.

After retiring from the Navy Gregory continued to support the Virginia Class Program Office working as a contractor at several different companies.

Gregory and Jolyn have 1 daughter (Alissa) who was born in Hawaii in 1982.

Gregory retired totally in October 2015. He and his wife Jolyn currently live in Dumfries, VA and spend their winters in Boynton Beach, FL.

Submarine Sonar Chief Gregory V. Carroll

 

All photos of Greg Carroll are courtesy of Gregory and Jolyn Carroll

Note: Please direct any corrections or typos to: bremertonreunion.alumni@gmail.com SUBJ: TYPOS

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