Good afternoon and welcome again to the Decommissioning Ceremony for the USS BREMERTON. This ceremony is a culmination of over 45 years the BREMERTON has been actively part of the United States submarine force. From her Keel laying on May 8, 1976, Commissioning on March 28, 1981 to this Decommissioning ceremony. It has been an eventful 45 years and we do not have time at this moment to even scratch the surface of all the stories and memories that were made by the over 1600 sailors who served in her. We are here today though to honor all of those stories and memories. I have come to learn over the last couple of years how strong the BREMERTON bond is. Having talked with alumni organizers and meeting some of the plank owners who came here to wish her farewell I know why BREMERTON is the American Classic.
As we all know we are in unique times and for this reason this ceremony is being held with limited attendance, but it is being live streamed and there is a group of alumi who are gathered at the Horse and Cow in Bremerton, watching this ceremony and paying their respects to an important part of their life. I would like to take this time to thank our guest speaker CAPT United States Navy Retired Tom Anderson the first Commanding Officer and plank owner for representing all previous officers who have served in Bremerton and Sonar Technician Submarines Senior Chief United States Navy Retired and plank owner, Gregory Carroll who is here in the audience representing all previous enlisted personnel and the first Chief of the BOAT Master Chief Paul Gagnon who passed away last year.
Both CAPT Anderson and Senior Carroll served aboard the Bremerton at her commissioning, and I feel it is appropriate to bookend this ceremony with sailors who served in her from the first underway through to today, commemorating the 40 years of commissioned service the crew and submarine BREMERTON have given for our country.
As I said we are live streaming this and I have received numerous emails from prior BREMERTON sailors expressing their fondness and stories of their time on board the Bremerton. From watching the space shuttle taking off when Bremerton was moored in Port Canaveral, to the comradery cemented in foreign port calls. The one thing that holds true is the connections the BREMERTON sailors made with each other and the bonds that formed during their service together. That is why we are here today, to remember those who have come before to revitalize the memories, so the BREMERTON lives on.
I would like to take a few moments to thank the final crew who has stood the watch during the final push to reach this point. As all the active-duty submariners here know we live a very much a “semper gumby” way of life. We take what we know should happen and prepare for what may happen because what should happen definitely will not be what does happen. That is the spirit of all submariners, and it is very true of the current crew. In your pamphlet for today’s ceremony, you will find a list of submariners standing watch on the Bremerton today. I am not going to read each name, but I would like you to open and read the names. Each one is a hero. They came to BREMERTON knowing they would be completing the decommissioning as the final crew but were given a schedule that would change week to week and sometimes from one day to the next. Through all of that unknown they have stood the watch, they drained all the fluids, depressurized all systems, secured the electrical power and emptied all the lockers. They have finished the job.
Another group that I would also like to personally thank today is the families. They are the unsung heroes, the bedrock, our foundation that allow us, the sailors, to do what we do. As we gather amongst shipmates and retell stories of the adventures at sea, don’t forget to listen the family stories as well. I know some of the family stories make what we had to deal with at sea seem minor. We, the sailors, sometimes forget in our rush to head out sea the true impact our nomadic life can have on them, and they are as much a part the BREMERTON story as the sailors. From PCS moves while the boat is deployed to family emergencies while the boat is in radio silence they maintain our homes ready for when we return. Please join me in a round of applause for the spouses, children, parents, grandparents and all other family members who have supported BREMERTON sailors these last 45 years.
In closing, as I said we are here to celebrate the history, that is the BREMERTON. The history of the BREMERTON is the sailors. I am a believer that the soul of the any ship is the crew that lives, eats, and breathes on board. They stand watch on the coldest days of the year to the sun scorched days in faraway places. When equipment breaks, they respond to determine the cause, find the parts (or in some cases make the part) to get the mechanical beast operating at full capability. The crew is the BREMERTON! As we pay homage and bear reverence to executing the ceremonial hauling down of the Ensign and securing of the watch for the last time, we recognize the decommissioning of the submarine BREMERTON. BREMERTON will be stricken from the records of the commissioned Warships and will await her final disposal. Our job today and the days and years to come will be to keep the BREMERTON tradition alive! She will live on in the story’s shipmates tell each other, parents tell their children, and grandparents to their grandchildren. Thank you.
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