You’ll see plenty of stories over the next weeks and months on the new Submarine New Jersey, SSN796, but it was such a thrill to meet part of the crew and be there to see them introduced to the state most of them have never seen before.
This is the third in the Navy’s fleet to be named New Jersey, but the first submarine. We all know the USS New Jersey, BB62, the most highly decorated ship in the US Navy. That is now a museum in Camden, and that’s where the Sub New Jersey crew members are today for another of their very busy weekend visits. That BB62 followed the first battleship named New Jersey.
The Navy has this wonderful program when they’re commissioning a new vessel in the fleet. They have a pre-commissioning crew, and small groups from that crew spend some time visiting the state for which their boat is named. The purpose of that is not only to enable the sailors to know more about the state for which their boat is named, but also to let the residents of the state know more about the crew and the ship that is carrying its name wherever in the world it needs to be to protect and defend our nation.
This was the first visit of the crew to New Jersey, and it was a magnificent group that included the XO of the boat, a Chief, and four crew members. Only MMNC Newton is from New Jersey, he went to Ocean Township High School, only two of the others have been here….sadly, only on the turnpike between duty in Connecticut and Virginia, and the others have never seen the Garden State before.
Peter Engleman from Colts Neck is the very able, very thorough pre-commissioning committee member who planned and oversaw the event and did a magnificent job of letting these Sailors know some of the things in which the Garden State takes great pride.
They had an exciting, educational, and fun first day here, beginning with meeting the cadets at MAST on Sandy Hook where the cadets barraged them with questions on everything from how long the boat can stay underwater to what happens to all the human waste. County Commissioner Lillian Burry, who has a soft spot in her heart and a strong sense of history, military, and all that’s good about Fort Hancock, MAST and all the Monmouth County parks, was on hand to meet and greet the crew and give them a warm welcome to Monmouth County.
PHOTO: Freeholder Lillian Burry receiving a "Boats" hat from the "XO"
Shawn Welch of the 21st Century Fort Hancock committee with the Commissioner, and an extremely well versed retired army officer, gave the crew a tour of the battery at Fort Hancock and a history of everything about that installation. Then Shawn took them all up to Hartshorne Woods where Monmouth County historian Gail Hunton and the park rangers stayed overtime to greet them and accompany Shawn as he took them through Battery Lewis and showed them the gun barrel from the New Jersey in place overlooking the ocean. After that it was dinner at Bahrs Restaurant for some of the world’s best seafood, then over to NWS Earle where they were spending the night before heading to the Battleship today.
Veni Vidi Scripto will continue to have a lot of stories about the crew, the folks they met and didn’t meet while here, and the boat itself, about three-quarters finished in the shipyard at Newport News, Va. Can’t say too much about it because I think it’s so terrific we have a New Jersey Submarine!