Buy Photo For the crew of the 37-year-old submarine USS Bremerton, the past week was filled with a bittersweet series of lasts as the fleet’s oldest active duty submarine made its way to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for retirement.
During the next few years, sailors and shipyard crews will work together to inactivate the submarine’s nuclear reactor, remove all of the gear inside the vessel and break apart its remains for scrap metal.
When the submarine departed its former homeport of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on April 20, the boat’s original klaxon rang out for the last time to signify the submarine’s final dive as it headed to the Pacific Northwest.
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The klaxon is affectionately named "Annie," after the daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Henry M. Jackson, who represented Washington state and was a staunch advocate for the military in Congress. Jackson’s wife, Helen, was the boat’s sponsor when it was launched in July 1978 and was commissioned on March 28, 1981. Buy Photo Breanna Squires embraces her husband, Harley, while 8-month-old daughter Olivia looks on after Harley disembarked the USS Bremerton at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton on Friday. The submarine made its final journey from Pearl Harbor to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. (Photo: Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun) When the submarine prepared to surface on the other end of the journey, USS Bremerton’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Travis Zettle, turned over the power to grant permission to surface to the sub’s first commanding officer, retired Capt. Thomas Anderson, who joined the boat in Pearl Harbor to ride along for its final underway.
As such, Anderson was the first person to command the dive of the submarine, and now, the last person to command it to surface.
"It’s just been wonderful to be back," Anderson said. "It has brought back all sorts of memories. Although much of the boat has changed, a lot of it, the important things, have remained the same. It feels like it did in 1981."
Even after all of these years, Anderson said the Bremerton is still in great fighting shape.
"One of the things that amazes me is that it’s the oldest submarine in the fleet, and despite that, it’s in really, really good shape," Anderson said. "I’d attribute that to the hard work, dedication and spirit of the sailors and commanding officers who have worked hard to keep this ship in top shape."
For both of the Bremerton’s first and last commanding officers, moving through the underway sequence one last time was a somber, but well-deserved inevitability for the vessel that deployed 17 times during its service life.
"You know it’s going to happen. In the beginning, you don’t know when it’s going to happen, but all ships go to their final resting place," Anderson said. "But, looking at what the ship has accomplished, the number of deployments, what it’s done over the years, it really makes you feel good."
"It’s sad to finally park this warship that […]