THE DECOM & REUNION BEAT

RECON OF THE 698 DECOM AND REUNION

What we have, though specific details of the event have not been updated for several months is:

THE DECOM CEREMONY

DECOM will be held at KEYPORT NAVAL UNDERSEA MUSEUM on APRIL 16, 2021.

This is the latest official information and it has not yet been changed.

This is open to the public and will adhere to all of the social distancing rules that will be in effect at that time.

We do not know details yet of how the ceremony may be broadcasted via internet or other method.

However, as of January 2021, the MUSEUM IS CLOSED, but one would presume the DECOM ceremony would still be performed. The situation requires continued monitoring.

As for a DECOM ceremony being held near the boat… that time has long been gone.  Basically, for those of you who are late to the game, that’s why Decom ceremonies for boats in Deep Shipyard are conducted at Keyport.

 

COVID RULE AFFECTED ACCOMODATIONS AND VENUES

Using the Fairfield Inn as a benchmark due to it’s proximity to the Horse and Cow and the waterfront district, we have a condition report as of January 5, 2021.

-BLOCK RESERVATIONS can be made for alumni at a rate of $104 per night for a room with a king size or two queens.

This from the Fairfield Inn group coordinator on Jan 5, 2021: ” For a your group in April, I can quote a rate of $104 per night for the rooms.  For the room block we need a cut off date of about 30 days prior to your event, and any cancellations of the group due to Covid restrictions have no penalty.  We do ask for 30 days notice of cancellation if possible.  We are not requiring deposits for room blocks at this time. ”

Proposed block dates are Wednesday, April 14 through Monday, April 19. How long would you like to hang out?

There are recommended quarantine rules post inbound travel in place but they are not mandatory.

Group meeting areas are limited to 25% capacity. This is the general rule for all meeting spaces. For example the 120 group capacity meeting room at the Fairfield will be limited to 15 people with social distancing. I know that sounds like less than 25% but that’s what it comes to, a ball room could suffice for a welcome area, but not for a major gathering.

Across the board, establishments are subject to quarantine rules.

HORSE & COW and other local restaurants are limited to take out and outdoor social distanced dining when available.

Museums and even the USS Turner Joy (the Destroyer on the waterfront) are closed.

The Fairfield and the Hampton are under the same management, so details will be similar to both hotels.

Even the awesome breakfast buffet has been modified for social distancing some how.

Catering for a group event can be provided by the hotel from the tavern across the street called the AX & ARROW, which is a veteran owned establishment.

ANALYSIS

At the moment, I don’t see a whole lot of organizing for this event based on the current limitations.

The are no tours on submarines or on anything this time, no getting on base for fun, no late nights trying to get your base security credentials straightened out. No confrontations with Squadron, NBK Security, or any other control point.

Centralized accommodations would make it easy to gather.

A group photo is still important. Don’t forget. And don’t use a mission impossible camera.

A transportation plan is needed for the day of the DECOM ceremony.

-The number of people renting cars and the amount of parking at Keyport would be helpful info.

-Limo bus rental is a possibility since many will not have rental cars. A quick sampling of hired 10-30 passenger options range from $500-1500 or higher depending on the number and style of vehicle.

-LYFT – UBER

Don’t know about your State, but Washington and California, where I live, have similar COVID restrictions.

Personal considerations regarding health, living with any high-risk family members or roommates, your work’s quarantine policies may affect your decisions.

THIS IS THE SITUATION AS OF JANUARY 2021  Things can change, so this is what makes this a bit harder to manage or organize anything too ambitious. It’s possible to see the essentials of a reunion to meet with shipmates, albeit affected by rules of engagement in the public spaces.

Your ideas are welcomed.

THAT IS IT FOR THE SANE SIDE

 

 

P.S.  WELCOME TO THE UNDERWORLD – THE UNDER THOUGHTS OF A REUNION PLANNER

Trying to develop a picture from a murky situation, when you just want to hear anything.

 

“SONAR-CONN -TALK TO ME, SONAR…”

Putting into words the current situation in regards to the upcoming DECOM of the USS Bremerton (SSN 698) is not something I’m gung-ho about but given I am a blogger with a light finger on the pulse of the 4-month period leading up to the April 2021 DECOM date, the dilemmas deserves some effort to unpack during this time of unparalleled and real complications.

So this is what you want the sonar supervisor of a writer to do sometimes, make subjective calls and reports to the CONN:

“CONN-SONAR…”

What I am going to write is not based on anything official, oh not at all, but just observing the international and national state of affairs, insight from shipmates who have either a better view of things than I do, and the blank responses from people which can mean more than saying nothing in particular.

For many of you who will look at this as sort of no holds barred go for broke attitude towards planning that parallels your pent up desire to party, un-shelter, or just plain explode, what I am going to write may sound like a restraining order. Yet, in either case, it can spur dialogue and ideas in these unconventional days we live.

“SONAR-CONN: COMMENCE REUNION PLANNING”

“CONN-SONAR AYE”

Planning an event like a reunion attached to a DECOM ceremony requires some known factors, things we usually take for granted in an open and law-abiding peacetime society, like:

  • Unrestricted group and individual travel
  • Access to military units and facilities
  • Direct and indirect support from the military
  • Unrestricted accommodations and meeting facilities

“SONAR-CONN: SECURE REUNION PLANNING”

“CONN-SONAR, AYE. GOING ACTIVE.”

“(EXPLETIVES DELETED)”

Now, let’s be blunt. You don’t hear much about it with all the noise but in so many ways our military, our US Navy in particular with their long term deployments, is at a high state of alert and between internal and external threats and the restrictions based on health issues and/or political overreach, we have one difficult situation to plan anything, at least anything that you would expect to stick that rises to the level of an EPIC BASH.

It’s a sobering thought and one that puts DECOM ceremonies and reunions attached to them in a priority somewhere far below national security and operational readiness of all active duty personnel.

As another shipmate pointed out, submarine tours have long become a thing of the past in today’s ever tightening security environment, not to mention COVID, yea, the CCP virus, the possible operation altering virus is an unwanted enemy collaborator.

Moreover, the Badfish, is in DEEP SHIPYARD getting ready to have her atomic guts removed and the only people who can see her are hard-hatted googley-eyed aliens who are hovering with sinister intentions to our ol’ gal’s feminine figure. Hazardous work zone, no public access. Dig it? Those yellow and black cross striped signs keeping the creeps out.

If you as a retired 698 bubblehead weren’t caught stealing aboard the Navy Bus to tour the 698 when she was last seen tied up at NBK BREMERTON Pier D in 2018 during that slimmest of opportunities to see the American Classic in one piece, well, sorry, you missed it.

If you blinked too long when she arrived from Pearl then left for Puget-Sound Naval DEEP SHIPYARD, you missed the boat. Literally.

As one associated with reunion organization,  I must believe, the reunion space will avail itself, if at all, close to the scheduled date on April 25th, it’s highly likely that any action taken will occur much like in 2018 – close into to the target, where the target solution is known, it cannot evade, the options are clearly defined and the immediate environmental conditions are unlikely to change. High probability mean less wasted effort although it’s likely to be like an emergency drill  just like in 2018 or maybe worse, unless there’s not much to organize.

While we have little control of the national requirement for operational readiness in our volatile world, we can continue to assess the changes and effects of COVID restrictions and be prepared to move if there is any certainty closer to the planned date for DECOM.

Until the situation gets more clear, it will take more personal  assessment (especially for any quarantine requirements affecting your work and travel plans), patience, flexibility, imagination, possible local organization on part of reunion participants, maybe a private date with your own bottle of your favorite brown liquid, and a crucifix pointed at the commie-controlled ZOOM software, as we take part in commemorating the formal ending of the Commissioned life of the Bremerton, a veteran of the COLD WAR.

If there’s anything to contradict what I’ve written, I’m sure I’ll get word. I’m sure you’ll tell me.

“SONAR-CONN, BELAY YOUR REPORTS”

“CONN-SONAR, BELAY MY REPORTS, AYE”

Copyright © 2019 -2021 bremertonreunion.net

698 Alumni Search

Based on the membership of SSN 698 related social media groups, there are roughly 300 shipmates on-line out of the estimated 1400 to 1500 or more sailors who served on the USS Bremerton SSN 698.

You may know some shipmates who are not using social media and can only be contacted by email, telephone, US Mail or by website. Please forward this information to them.

Capt. Alan R. Beam (698 CO #3), one of the key organizers of events related to USS Bremerton, requested that alumni information be gathered. In effort to consolidate contact information specifically for USS Bremerton SSN 698 alumni, a user driven database on this website has been established where contact and some service information can be entered and collected.

In the header menu you will see 698 Alumni Sign Up. There, you may volunteer your information by clicking on it and entering your contact and other requested information.

By providing some specific service info, we want to weed out imposters as well as help document a part of the history of the 698.  In order to add yourself to the database, some of the service information is not required, though all the information is requested.

This information will only be used by USS Bremerton SSN 698 event organizers and it is understood that your contact information will be used for announcements and other event business. The use of email will help reduce cost of mailing when formal invitations are not required and circumvent difficulties encountered with any given social media platform.

Please, if you are not a 698 Alumni, if you have not served aboard USS Bremerton SSN 698, do not try signing up through the 698 Alumni Sign Up.

In special cases where a shipmate has passed away and you are the primary contact for our lost shipmate, please send a message to bremertonreunion.alumni@gmail.com to request being place on the contact list. We honor the survivors who desire to maintain contact and attend events with those who shared an important part of their loved ones life in the Navy.

If there is significant interest in event info from non-698 personnel, other than survivors, another database may be created. If you are not a 698 alumni and are interested in following events, you can follow this website and/or strongly recommend the Navy League of the Bremerton – Olympic Area website at https://bremolympicnlus.wordpress.com   You may also contact bremertonreunion.alumni@gmail.com with your request to be added to a contact list, use subject: 698 SUPPORTER with a brief description of your connection with the Bremerton and your contact information.

Keep on reading, important note below…

SIGN UP NOTE/CHECK SPAM SETTING:

The sign up tool is designed to provide you a private  link where you can manage your information, however, be on the alert, you may get this email in your spam folder. Please un-spam that email. If you have any issues with receiving the confirmation and link, you may contact this website’s administrator with any problems. Your information can be entered manually by an administrator and, if needed, your lost private link email can be resent.

If you have any suggestions for modifications to the information requested or other bright idea, feel free to contact me at bremertonreunion.alumni@gmail.com

THANK YOU

Photo Courtesy of Bob Miller

 

Copyright © 2019-2020 bremertonreunion.net

 

“Tug Boat” Annie’s

Some of the Bremerton Boys at Norm’s and Annie’s Lounge in Groton, CT. (circa 1979)
Bottom Row: Ken “Colonel” Collins. Tom “Mac” McPhillips, Donald Jones, Ray Rich, Tim “Burt” Noble.
Top row: Jim Rowe, Peter Berns. Timmy Naylor, Jim “the Rev” Jones, and Russ Woods (photo courtesy of Russ Woods). More photos at the end of article.

 

 

 

How Norm’s Lounge and the Bremerton Boys came to be

Story by Russ Woods, Plankowner

 

It was late in 1979 the Bremerton Boys were in search of a place to hang out and let our hair down. Someone in our posse heard the soon to be legendary Tommy Cox, was gonna be playing at Rosa’s Cantina. Of course being newly minted sailors fresh out of Sub School we flocked to see this balladeer of the Submarine.

As it turned out Tommy Cox, was a good ole boy who welcomed us nubs as though we were salty veterans of the deep abyss. We danced and cheered as Tommy sang songs of daring do, done by bad ass boat sailors. After his show he willingly engaged us in conversation and informed us he and his band mates would be playing regular at “Tug Boat Annie’s” AKA Norm’s Lounge beginning the next week. Well of course we marked the date and time in our calendars. We eagerly arrived as early birds and staked out prime real estate in the corner near the fire place which was never used. This became our corner.

Tommy and his band arrived and played our songs mixed with some nice covers of the day’s standard country music fare. We all felt like this was a cool place to be. Moving forward every Friday and Saturday night from then until Bremerton left for Hawaii save for a handful of times we were at sea the Bremerton Boys were there in our corner.

We developed a strong bond with the owners Norm and Annie. Yes, Tug Boat Annie, was Norm’s wife. I have no clue how she got that moniker. We were such a fixture in our corner of the bar on those few occasions when we had to go to sea, the staff would close that section off lest some interlopers might attempt to stake it out as theirs.

There were nights at Norm’s when one or more of us would be nursing a single beer for an hour. The waitress would see this and magically that sailor’s beer would be refreshed on a regular basis. Gratis. I know this to be true because I was the beneficiary of this kindness on at least one occasion. I know from conversation others in this group were treated with equal generosity.

Many magical things occurred at Norm’s. My A#1 good buddy Peter Burns met the love of his life Lori there. Another charter member and very dear friend Timmy “Tithead” Naylor, got real good acquainted with his lifelong love Daphne while hanging at Norm’s.

Many of our Bremerton shipmates would stop in every so often some more often than others. We always had a party going on in our corner. We were as much a fixture in there as Tommy and his band. We would be dancing and singing along and on occasion there would be dancing on the tables. The harder we partied the more energetic Tommy and his boys played.

 

Norm and Annie were also very forgiving. In my youth I was not always patient with folks and on some occasions there were ner’ do wells who sought to interject themselves into our party in what might be considered a rude manner. Normally a discrete trip out to the parking lot would allow a solution for the problem. On one occasion the misunderstanding escalated quickly and someone got a bloody nose right there in our corner. Of course that behavior was frowned upon by most civilized folks and Norm. He came over after the offending group had left.

He had a look on his face and I was sure I was about to get banished forever. I was very sad and angry at myself for behaving as I had.

Norm sat in a chair and motioned for me to sit beside him. The Bremerton boys all moved away as far as they could in the corner giving us space. I think they sensed Woody was about to get the boot.

 

Norm looked at me like I was the Beaver, and he was Ward Cleaver.

In a very fatherly tone he asked me “What happened?”

I explained in the most contrite manner I could muster up the miscreant who had just been smited about the head and shoulders was talking trash about this place and those of us who were there.  “…I took offense and lost my temper and I am sorry.”

Norm smiles puts his arm around my shoulder and says,

“Well, we’re gonna do better to stay calm next time. Right?

“Yes Sir, I certainly will.”

He got up and never said another word.

 

On other times during Christmas and New Year’s Norm would close the bar – It would be invitation only. Steamship round and beer. The beef was free we paid for the beer. Tommy would be playing and of course the Bremerton Boys were VIP’s.

Norm bought the building next door. He asked if we would be able to show up on Saturday and help knock down the wall between the two buildings. We did not understand how God could grace us with such great luck. A really cool bar, with a really cool owner, Tommy Cox Band playing AND we get to come in and tear shit up without getting into trouble. Well understand we took great glee in knocking down that wall. Our only regret is we weren’t allowed to knock down the wall on the other side. Norm paid us off in cold Miller beers.

During the time we haunted Tug Boat Annie’s. A number of the Chiefs and Officers including Capt. Anderson made visits on a Saturday night. In our brief time together, in our little corner of a small bar in Groton, Connecticut, we were all royalty. It was a grand time to be alive and none of us will ever trade our time there for anything.

 

After Bremerton sailed us around to Pearl, Tommy Cox continued to play at Norm’s a few more years. We left there in 1981 and I returned in 1983 for my second trip through Elastic Boat. I of course made my way in there. Our waitress was still there, she hugged me and said Friday and Saturday nights were never the same after we left. I replied the same was true for us.

 

RW

.

Candid shots of Norm and Annie’s Lounge with the Bremerton Boys

Photos courtesy of Larry and Marianne Tharp.
Larry and Marianne Tharp had their wedding reception at Norm and Annie’s Lounge with Tommy Cox and his band providing the entertainment.
The Tommy Cox Band, Larry Tharp and Marianne on the dance floor

 

Jeff Dietrich, Mary, and “Balladeer of the Submarine” Tommy Cox

 

Peter J. Berns and Ken Burnside with the epic smoke hanging off his lips.

 

Clemon “C.C.” Cager

 

Sharon and Ken Burnside with friends of the Tharps, Patty, howard, Shirley, and Ronnie.
Jeff Dietrich and Larry Tharp with their ladies.

 

 

Marianne Tharp with Tommy Cox’s father

This token is courtesy of Marianne Tharp and she shares this story to go along with it: “Tommy Cox gave it to me one night. We have his album and his CDs. Larry [Tharp] and I met at Norm’s Lounge in January of 1980 and he asked me to marry him in February 1980…. and got married on May 10th, 1980. Seems like after that someone got married every few weeks… so much fun we all had. Good memories for sure!”

 

Editor’s Note: If anyone is able and willing to contribute a few qualified photo’s of Norm’s Lounge with 698 Shipmates and/or especially photos of Norm and Annie or the store front. please contact me through this website. I will amend this article with the appropriate photos.

 

LISTEN TO TOMMY COX SING

“The Dives We’ve Known” and more on You-Tube including “Still on Patrol” which mentions the Bremerton

click on the image

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LOOKING BACK – Bremerton’s Sister-Ships at Electric Boat

 

Electric Boat yard, USS Ohio (SSBN-726) and the USS Jacksonville (SSN-699). Photo source U.S. Navy Institute.

 

 

LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for Decommissioning.

 

SAVE THE 698

Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

 

Bremerton – Keyport 2021

photo source: navalunderseamuseum.org

For those of you unfamiliar with the Bremerton, WA area, the Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport is along Port Orchard Bay, 11 miles due north of the City of Bremerton.

Since most of the submarines being decommissioned, including USS Bremerton, are situated in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in a security zone known and the Controlled Industrialized Area (CIA), access to the public is off limits.  Therefore, it is virtually certain, ceremonies will be held apart from the submarine. In regards to the actual ceremony’s location, it is highly probable that it will be held at Keyport where other boat’s have held their DECOM events.

The Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport (image source: navalunderseamuseum.org).

The latest word regarding the Bremerton is that the Navy will sponsor a Decommissioning ceremony. In the lives of some boats,  there are two separate events, an Inactivation and a Decommissioning (DECOM).

DECOM will be the one and last official ceremonial event in Bremerton’s service to the United States. The timing is based on shipyard schedules and key elements of the work involved. In a recent article, it is estimated by CDR Chris Lindberg, 698’s Commanding Officer, that Spring of 2021 is the period that SSN 698 will Decommission.

Commissioned in March 1981, the good ol’ BadFish is looking to make an amazing 40 year run. 40 years! The first U.S. Navy submarine destined to achieve that milestone. Get ready to hoist your glasses with your shipmates, family and friends, that deserves a grande celebration – as bittersweet as it may be.

The BadFish Beat

A fresh buzz surrounds the USS Bremerton community with the mention CDR Lindberg’s target date. Many of the navy alumni, submariners who have called Bremerton their home, have often expressed that one of the best boats if not the best boat they have ever served on was the Bremerton, a fine testament to their shipmates and to the commanding officers they served under.

Last year, meeting up with the boat before she went into the CIA, affectionately known as “Deep Shipyard”, caught many 698 alumni off guard. The sudden  change in operational orders of the boat, coming straight off a West-Pac to go into the yards for DECOM, was game only for the maniac efforts of the most nimble reunioners ready for rapid deployment.

Many who attended were connected through Facebook which made communication in the fast moving situation feasible. Even so, for this event that was almost conjured out of thin air, we final-mustered a group of over 100 BadFish supporters who were willing to divide into four groups over a 3-day period to take one last reminiscent walk across the well-traveled decks and ladders of the fast-attack submarine.

 

Get your non-Facebook using Shipmates to Act Now

Over the next year we need to get interested alumni who are not members of Facebook onto our contact list.  If you know any alumni who wants to get a periodic update for reunion news, please email Master Chief Steve Everett at his email:  southzvi@gmail.com (Subject Line: 698 Email List).

Please also provide your:

  • rate/rank/dept 
  • which years served on 698
  • mailing address (email and postal) and
  • phone number 
  • Surviving family members are also welcomed to send their contact info

Please Note: EMAIL outside of Facebook, is preferred to keep costs down, but if you do not even have email, text messaging is low cost alternate. If you are actually still living in the stone age and has neither e-mail or text message ability, we’ll still do our duty to keep you informed the best we can using the postal service.

Now, we’ve got the Navy time-honored event on the horizon – DECOM. We expect to have room to maneuver our personal schedules to get into position; in the meantime, we hope the Navy will avoid doing any Crazy Ivans with their scheduling. The exact date for DECOM is TBA.

Some people were concerned that the ceremony itself will be a restricted affair in regards to security, location and audience size. At this time, it appears none of these factors will be an issue.

This website was developed particularly for those who are not on social media but have access to the internet. So tell your Facebook-hating shipmates to get their email to Master Chief or at least tell them to subscribe to this website to get important updates.

Stock illustration from Wikipedia, note the VLS Second-Flight mods which are not installed on First-Flight 688s like the American Classic.

SIGNIFICANT  & OFTEN UNREPORTED DATES:

08 MAY 1976: KEEL LAID
22 JUL 1978 LAUNCHED
28 MAR 1981 COMMISSIONED
11 JUL 1981 DEPARTS GROTON

28 OCT 1981 Reports to Homeport PEARL HARBOR

18 AUG 1998 Reports to Homeport SAN DIEGO
16 SEP 2003 Reports to Homeport PEARL HARBOR
27 APR 2018 Arriving in BREMERTON to begin inactivation/DECOM process

 

For more information about the museum at Keyport, please click on this link NAVALUNDERSEAMUSEUM

 

Source photos for Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport: http://www.navalunderseamuseum.org

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net