Saturday, July 30, 2016
I Love That Some Things Never Change...Like When a Submarine Comes Home to Groton
The USS Nautilus was the first military vehicle to run the polar route right through the North Pole. It was the first nuclear powered submarine ever. It's a historic piece and it's on display at the Submarine Force Museum at the Groton Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut. For whatever reason, I had never made it to that museum until the other day. Welcome to my summer of visiting things in my state of Connecticut.
The Groton base has been in use for well over a hundred years. It's the biggest thing in the Groton/New London area. The best part for us tourists is that the museum and the Nautilus are free to the public. The museum is great because it tells you the history of the base and the history of submarines. You get to learn about who invented what and why they decided to make it in the first place. Military history is something that a lot of people don't like to delve into, because war makes them uneasy. I get that. I hate war too. But, when you visit a museum like the Submarine Force, you can at least understand why a whole bunch of other people who also don't like war, had to come up with these inventions in order to defend out country. I think that sometimes we get on our soap boxes and forget that the reason that the military exists is to defend us. We all need to remember that.
Submarines have grown in size over the years as you can see by the example rings in front of the museum. There are also several kinds of rescue subs that have been created. Submarines are amazing vehicles and the soldiers that man them spend months at a time at sea. Without them, we would be vulnerable to countries that don't have such altruistic values as our military upholds. I just think that sometimes we should all take the time to learn a little bit about this part of our world that is so amazingly important but overlooked by average Joe.
I had a wonderful time at the museum which is open from 9 to 5 and closed on Tuesdays, but let's fast forward to the later part of my day. That's right, I'm adding a little story to my blog. It's rare but I do it once in a while. My husband and I are on the waterfront in New London. It's a great place to hang out. We'd heard some people talking at the Submarine Museum about how a boat was coming in that day. We also saw a sign welcoming the crew of the USS Virginia by the gate to the base. When I saw three speedboats and a tugboat that I had seen at the base go by; I presumed that there was indeed the USS Virginia somewhere on it's way home.
So here we are on the local fishing pier by Fort Trumbull hanging out watching a fish feeding frenzy in the water, and these boats go by. We figured at that time that we had a chance to see a current nuclear submarine go by. I was excited.
New London and Groton are industrial towns and while we waited for the submarine to come by, we enjoyed the industrial scenery. General Dynamics still manufactures submarines for the military today. The harbor is still busy with ships and has a lighthouse at the end. The shipping channel is busy with boats, ships, and ferries. After we waited to see what was happening for a half hour, I noticed that the local traffic was clearing out of the shipping channel. I figured that this meant that the sub would be by at any time.
And it did come by with a bunch of sailors on it that were really happy to be back home. The sub made it's way by us and through the narrow opening in the train bridge that would lead it to the base and the sailors to their families who were waiting to greet them. I was appalled that the locals on the pier didn't even blink. I know that they've grown up with it, but the military serve for our sakes, and we should all respect that. The submarine was quite a sight. The Virginia Class is an attack sub, so there are even bigger ones. It was enormous and I can't imagine what it would have been like to see an Ohio Class come in.
The best part of my experience came from the sister fort across the way. At Fort Griswold they still fire off the cannons when a boat comes in. I thought that was amazing and wonderful. So, men of the USS Virginia; you are appreciated. If not by the locals of New London, by many of us in your country. I am amazed at the things you do to serve your country, and I would like to say thank you. And for anyone who would like to see an amazing submarine and museum, come to Groton, Connecticut to the Submarine Force Museum and enjoy!