Past and current members of the crew of the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Providence (SSN 719) gathered at Submarine Base New London Friday, August 20, to say goodbye to the oldest active fast attack submarine in the U.S. Navy.
Providence is scheduled to leave Groton, Connecticut, for the final time in the coming days and shift her homeport to Bremerton, Washington, before decommissioning. Providence was commissioned on July 27, 1985 and has been homeported in Groton for more than 36 years.
“This occasion is an opportunity for us to reflect on USS Providence’s nearly four decades of service to our country and the thousands of submariners who have worked tirelessly aboard over the years to answer our nation’s call, whenever and wherever necessary,” said Cmdr. Michael V. McLaine, commanding officer of Providence. “Each of us here is incredibly proud to have played a role in this tremendous boat’s legacy of greatness. USS Providence will never be forgotten.”
Current Providence executive officer Lt. Cmdr. John Gilligan welcomed guests, including numerous Providence plank owners – members of the boat’s first crew – to Friday’s ceremony. In addition to McLaine, Vice Adm. Stanley Szemborski (ret.), Providence’s first executive officer, delivered remarks at the event.
Szemborski lauded the leadership of his commanding officer aboard Providence nearly four decades ago, Capt. Emil D. Morrow.
“During my 36 years in the Navy, I met many outstanding officers, but if I had to go to war, I would want Capt. Morrow as my skipper,” Szemborski said. “There is an old sea story that a ship, throughout its life, takes the character of its first skipper. Providence could not have had a better start.”
Providence conducted combat operations over the years in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Odyssey Dawn.
Providence completed its sixteenth and final deployment in April, a seven-month tour which included 212 days underway, predominantly in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, and two under-ice Arctic transits.
As recently as this month, Providence participated in Exercise Black Widow 2021 in the North Atlantic, joining fellow Groton-based attack submarine USS Indiana (SSN 789) and multiple other Navy units, for the integrated undersea warfare exercise.
“Since 1985, USS Providence has been a stalwart part of our country’s submarine force,” said Capt. Matthew Boland, commanding officer of Submarine Squadron 12, of which Providence is a part. “Her accomplishment as one of the Navy’s finest submarines is a testament to the work ethic and dedication of the submariners who have served and continue to serve aboard. When she departs Connecticut for the final time, she’ll take so many cherished memories with her.”
Fast-attack submarines are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence. They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Fast-attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.
Providence is the fifth U.S. warship named after the capital city of the state of Rhode Island. It is 362 feet long with a beam of 33 feet and a crew of approximately 134 total officers and enlisted sailors.