May 18, 2021 – A decommissioning ceremony was held for Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Bremerton (SSN 698), after 40 years of service during a ceremony May 18, 2021, at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Washington.
The ceremony was hosted by Submarine Group Nine, with Capt. Richard Massie, commodore, Submarine Squadron Nineteen, serving as the presiding officer.
While in-person attendance was limited to ensure COVID protocols were observed, the event was live streamed on multiple Submarine Group Nine social media channels. A group of former crew members gathered at a local submariner hangout in downtown Bremerton to watch the ceremony and exchange sea stories.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was retired Captain Thomas Anderson, Bremerton’s first commanding officer, who took the ship on its maiden deployment and commanded the vessel 1981-1982. Anderson was invited to ride aboard Bremerton as it made its final voyage from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to PSNS & IMF for decommissioning, inactivation, and eventual recycling.
“There were about 1,600 dedicated, professional submariners who made it happen,” said Anderson, referring to the 40 years of service Bremerton provided to the U.S. Navy and the nation. “There was also the support of many others all along the line, including the submarine bases and shipyards, all who helped make that time period possible.”
“I’d like to thank Capt. (Christopher) Lindberg (current and final commanding officer of Bremerton) and his crew for taking care of the old gal in her final days,” Anderson said. “Despite the challenges of COVID, they’ve made this occasion special. In the spirit of 698, they figured out how to do it well, in true ‘Bad Fish’ tradition. They are the last to care for and know the secrets and the stories of this special submarine.”
The ceremony was held outside of the PSNS & IMF controlled industrial area to allow former crew members, families and supporters the opportunity to bid the submarine farewell. The crew will be signed over to PSNS & IMF in a ceremony at PSNS & IMF May 21.
“From the keel laying on May 8, 1976, commissioning of March 28, 1981, to this decommissioning ceremony, it has been an eventful 45 years,” said Lindberg. “We do not have time at this moment to scratch the surface of all the stories and memories of those who have served aboard her, the 1,600. We are here today to honor all those stories. Having talked to the alumni and organizers, and meeting with some of the plank owners who have come here to wish her farewell, I know Bremerton is ‘The American Classic.’ It really is impressive how much they all learned together, and the bonds that the prior shipmates have.”
“I too would like to thank the final crew,” Lindberg said. “They stood the watch during the final push to reach this day. They came to Bremerton knowing they’d be completing the decommissioning. They were given a schedule that would change from week to week, and sometimes day to day. Through it all, they have stood the watch. They have drained all the fluids, depressurized all systems, secured all electrical power, and most importantly, have emptied all the lockers after 40 years. They have finished the job.”
Bremerton departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, April 20, 2018, on its way to Bremerton, Washington, where it began the inactivation and decommissioning process. Bremerton entered Dry Dock 1 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility Oct. 14, 2020, to continue its inactivation process.
Bremerton is the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. The first USS Bremerton (CA 130) was a heavy cruiser commissioned near the end of World War II. She was named after the winning city resulting from a war bond drive contest between the workers at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and rival Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California.
USS Bremerton (SSN 698) was commissioned on March 28, 1981, and is named after the city of Bremerton, Washington. The tenth ship of the Los Angeles-class nuclear powered attack submarine, much of Bremerton’s activities remain under wraps.
It’s most high-profile mission was to assist local, state and federal officials with the disposal of the commercial tanker, New Carissa. The vessel had been spilling oil since it was shipwrecked near Coos Bay, Oregon, Feb. 4, 1999, and posed a danger to the environment. Once the unified command completed work in preparation for the ship’s disposal, Bremerton stepped in to fire one MK-48 advanced capability torpedo to sink New Carissa March 11, 1999.