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

Copyright © 2019 -2021 bremertonreunion.net

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

Copyright © 2019 -2021 bremertonreunion.net