In Memory of USS Anchorage LSD-36

Editor’s Note: This post is inspired by fellow Navy man, Michael P. McGrath, who served on the USS Anchorage LSD-36. He brought to our attention the demise of his ship at the hands of the USS Bremerton. As he puts it,

“No, I do not like it one bit …. but, if anyone was to sink my ship, I’m glad it was SSN-698. GO NAVY!” (See website at lsd36.com).

 

 

An ODE to the SHIPS we served

An excerpt from “The United States Navy” (422) by CAPT Edward L. Beach

“There always has been a mystique involving the self-contained little world of a large, well-founded ship, combating the far greater elements of wind and sky and the huge, trackless, sometimes malevolent sea. It was not lessened when the lovely square-riggers with their clouds of grey-brown canvas gave way, unwillingly, unavoidably, to steel behemoths powered by steam engines. There has always been something mysterious, and beautiful, about a ship on the bosom of the sea, something which makes men fall in love with her, even invest in her a living personality. But not only did a big ship become a living, sentient being to those who served her, she was also a community of kindred souls, of men who thought alike and worshipped at the same shrine. Never, even to the youngest sailor, has a ship been only a mechanism. To men who have devoted their lives to ships, any ship – but principally their own ship – becomes their reason for life itself…”

 

Image source: pinterest.com

 

 

 

USS Anchorage LSD-36 (image source clker.com)

 

USS ANCHORAGE LSD-36

Commissioned: 15 March 1969

Received by the Deep/Target Ship: 17 July 2010 Sunk by a torpedo from USS Bremerton (SSN-698)

 

The following was excerpted from http://lsd36.com/Archives/SHIP-INFORMATION.html

“SHIP’S MISSION: To embark, deploy and land elements of a Marine Landing Force in an assault by helicopter, landing craft, amphibious vehicles or by a combination of these methods…

…USS Anchorage was equipped with machine shops and repair facilities, and along with two 50-ton Boat & Aircraft Cranes; one port, one starboard, could provide drydock services for vessels up to harbor tug in size. This is when the flight deck could be removed.

This ship could embark 302 troops and had extensive storage facilities, including 1,400 cubic feet for cargo and ammunition stowage and 8,400 square feet for vehicle storage. Her flight deck had one helicopter spot and could carry two LCAC (Landing Craft, Air Cushion) in their well decks. More landing craft could be carried if the Mezzanine Deck were removed…

USS Anchorage was the first ship to be named after Alaska’s largest city. The ship is lead ship of her class and is the fourth class of LSD to be built. Her motto is ‘Sui Generis’, meaning ‘unique; of its own kind’…

USS Anchorage saw 34 years of honorable service after being commissioned in 1969. Before decommissioning in 2003, USS Anchorage patrolled in three of the world’s oceans and countless trouble spots, deploying 19 times from her home ports of San Diego and Long Beach. USS Anchorage earned the distinction of being the most decorated dock landing ship on the West Coast with 16 awards.”

 

SINK-EX

During the 2010 SINK-EX, after being pounded by all sorts of weapons from the air and the surface, the noble Anchorage stayed afloat. Waiting patiently for her turn, the USS Bremerton was ordered to fire a single MK-48 ADCAP torpedo, and with a perfect shot sent the ex-USS Anchorage LSD-36 to her final resting place.

All images below are sources from the QuickTime video in the link below:

http://lsd36.com/Archives/(QuickTime video of MK48 sinking of the ex-USS Anchorage LSD-36)

 

 

USS Bremerton (SSN-698) approaches at periscope depth
Making the shot a good one

A strong ship, it takes almost 22 minutes for the Anchorage to succumb to the death blow from Bremerton’s MK48, yet fate waits, and the ocean receives her.

The MK-48’s signature fatal buckling of the ship’s structure

The ocean is the Anchorage’s final resting place.
Image Source: Michael Gendron

 

Editor’s Note: Thanks to several Badfish shipmates who chimed in to confirm this SINKEX activity in 2010, including Shane Madak, Gene Gard, Marlo DelPueblo, Matt Eliason, Jeffrey Tottingham, Randall Moore, Jared Simpson, Steven Ralph, Michael Gendron, John Scanlan, Ron Shirey and John Stolhand.

 

 

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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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