Mrs. Rickover, Admiral Watkins, Admiral Trost, Admiral Smith, Admiral McKee, Admiral Larson, Admiral Chiles, Admiral Ryan, Chaplain Abelson, honored guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good Afternoon! First let me say “thank you” to Admiral Trost for that very kind and most thoughtful introduction. One of the joys in being a senior submariner has always been having such bright young men working with you and making you look good.
There are also a number of other “thank you”s to be said today for all that has gone into making this memorial, and indeed the entire Submarine Centennial Celebration, a statement about the United States Submarine Service in which we all can take great pride.
Let me start by saying “thank you”to Admiral Ryan and to the U.S. Naval Academy for giving us this very prestigious locale for our submarine memorial and for hosting us here today.
We also recognize the outstanding support to this effort provided by the several organizations within our submarine community and by that community at large. That American Submarine Community is made up of submariners, both active and former, who know what it is to go down into the sea in these ships. It also includes the industrialists, designers and craftsmen who have put together the pieces, parts, hulls, weapons and engines of these ships and those dedicated experts, both civilian and military, who provide the support necessary to keep these ships on the line.
Perhaps most importantly, we count among our community those very interested, concerned and involved folks in the general public who have always accepted the U.S. Submarine Service as uniquely American and having those traits most valued in American fighting men. I am convinced they respond very positively to seeing our good young men, all volunteers and superbly trained, ready to go into harm’s way in a type of ship built in the United States one hundred years ago. The U.S. Submarine Force was improved seventy years ago so we could fight the fiercest war in history sixty years ago. It was revolutionized with nuclear power and ballistic and cruise missiles forty-five years ago so we could face down a bipolar competitor for thirty five years. The Force is ready now to face the future, with all its unknowns, in the name of our nation and all it stands for.
Working for that larger submarine community are the organizations which have participated in the events and planning which have led to this day. The Submarine Veterans of World War II are represented by Captain Art Rawson, the United States Submarine Veterans are represented by Senior Chief Jack Ensminger, and the Naval Submarine League is represented here today by Admiral Bill Smith, the Chairman of their Board of Directors. We say Mthank you” to these organizations, to their leaders and to their members for all they have done.
The National Submarine Centennial Committee has done magnificently in providing the nation with a year-long very visible reminder of both the outstanding history and high potential of America’s Submarine Service. They are deserving of a very special “thank you” and it is a particular pleasure to offer those thanks in person to the Chairman, Admiral Hank Chiles and bis Vice Chairman, Captain Dave Cooper, and to Captain Bill Clautice who has been instrumental in siting this statue. Admiral, I would also ask that you pass along these “thanks” of ours today to those corporate sponsors of the Submarine Centennial who have given so generously so this memorial could be crafted and erected both to honor the past and to influence the future.
Another heartfelt “thank you” is offered to the artist who has given us the benefit of bis talent and the work of his hands in producing this memorial. Perhaps we can be excused for a special sense of pride since be is one of our own as the son of a man who labored mightily in, and represented a particularly effective part of, the submarine development effort. Ladies and Gentlemen please join me in a round of applause for Mr. Paul Wegner, the sculptor responsible for the Submarine Memorial Statue before you.
And now to the Submarine Memorial itself. It is most fitting that it is near the Battle of Midway Memorial in the Naval Academy yard. That battle was clearly a decisive battle of World War II. The Battle of Midway represents a discrete point in history; it took place over several days of highly intensive combat within a fairly small part of the vast Central Pacific. The U.S. Navy was outnumbered and outgunned there but outstanding individual courage and better on-the-spot command carried the day. It was, and still is, a high point of U.S. naval history. I’m proud that our Submarine Force contributed to our victory at Midway.
This Submarine Memorial commemorates not one point in history, but one hundred years of innovation and dedication, both in war and peace. It is a monument to the inventors like Holland, to the early operators who saw the potential in the submarine like Nimitz, to the engineers who worked out the problems of production like L.Y.Spear, to the wartime leaders who sent their boats out like Lockwood, to the wartime skippers who brought about great things with diesel boats like Dealy, Fluckey and Cutter. It also memorializes the technical skills and management acumen of Rickover and Levering Smith. The early nuclear legend-making trips of NAUTILUS, TRITON, and the Skate class boats are remembered here. The Cold War building program is a part of this memorial and was itself a monument to tenacity with 190 submarines built, tested, manned and operated since NAUTILUS sent her “Underway on Nuclear Power” message. The end of the Cold War is also a part of the first century submarine story, and we can take justifiable pride in the large part played by this Force in bringing about a peaceful end to that contest. The last decade of this first century is also represented here. There was no easy ride for submariners after the Berlin Wall came down and the submarine operations in the world’s oceans have shown another full dimension of submarine reach and endurance which is being used to lead the way into the next century.
There is a further element enshrined in this memorial and that is the honor, respect and great debt of this nation to the wives and families of those who have labored so hard and long to bring about the Force for Freedom we know today. Their sacrifice was real and their willingness to pick up that lonely burden has been, and is now, greatly appreciated. We could not have done it without them . To the wives and families we give our heartfelt “thank you”.
I used the word tenacity a moment ago in connection with the building program, but perhaps it is more appropriate to apply that word to the entire history of U.S. submarines. It was all done with determination, singleness of purpose, and endurance in the face of big obstacles. Tenacity is also a word, a trait, a character strength we can recommend to all those who follow us in this Submarine Community.
Thank you all for attending this event this afternoon.