By Journalist 3rd Class Adam Vernon, Naval Base Kitsap
The last of the Seawolf-class submarines, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), arrived at its new home of Naval Base Kitsap Nov. 9 from Groton, Conn., to the delight of more than 300 family members and Navy personnel waiting
Carter replaced USS Parche (SSN 683), which was decommissioned in October 2004.
“They’re finally here,” said the wife of Capt. Robert Kelso, commanding officer. “We’ve been waiting for four months, so this is pretty exciting. I’m just glad we were able to get all the families down here for this and we’re all together.”
Not only were families and fellow Sailors on hand, but a band from the Bear Creek School played Navy songs as the crowd eagerly awaited the boat’s arrival, and members of the Lake Washington Navy League were there to welcome the crew home. Clowns were there as well to entertain the children inside the newly renovated building on the pier. The renovations were done specifically to support the submarine.
For one family member, however, this was something old and something new. Pam Cooley, wife of Chief of the Boat CMDCM (SS) Robert Cooley of Patrol Squadron (VP) 40, based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, said she was used to waiting for her husband to arrive, but this time it was her son.
“This is great. It’s so different than being here for your husband, because it’s a different kind of pride and I am so proud of him,” she said of her son, Fire Control Technician (SS) 2nd Class Brandon Cooley.
After Carter's arrival, Capt. Peter Young, commodore, Submarine Development Squadron (SDS) 5, spoke to the families about what they can expect from his command.
“We’ve been waiting with almost as much anticipation as you have. We [at SDS 5] are here to serve you, the families,” Young said. “This is the most technogically advanced...ship in the world, and I know you’re as proud of this crew as I am.”
The boat itself is 100 feet longer than the other two submarines in its class and is the first to be named after a living ex-president. Carter’s Multi-Mission Platform allows the boat to accommodate the advanced technology required to develop and test a new generation of weapons, sensors and undersea vehicles for naval special warfare, tactical surveillance and mine-warfare operations.
“We pride ourselves in the Northwest for having world-class submariners and world-class submarines,” said Rear Adm. Frank Drennan, commander, Submarine Group 9, who toured the submarine as it made its approach to Bangor. “I wish you a terrific and well deserved reunion with your husbands and fathers.”
Before Kelso released the crew of 160 Sailors to their awaiting families, he spoke of the trials and tribulations the families faced throughout the transition to the Pacific Northwest.
“It seemed like it took forever to get here, yet it was just 25 days,” Kelso said. “To the Jimmy Carter families, I recognize the sacrifices you have made. This crew, through hard work, has kept the schedule on course. It’s great to finally be home.”