A city in Washington.
The second U.S. Navy ship named Bremerton. The first Bremerton, a heavy cruiser (CA-130), served from 1945–1973.
(SSN-698: displacement 6,159; length 362'; beam 33'; draft 31'; speed 25 knots; complement 110; armament UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, UUM-44 SubRoc antisubmarine missiles, UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Mk 48 torpedoes—four torpedo tubes; class Los Angeles)
The second Bremerton (SSN-698) was laid down on 8 May 1976 at General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Conn.; launched on 22 July 1978; sponsored by Mrs. Helen H. Jackson, wife of Senator Henry M. Jackson of Wash.; and commissioned on 28 March 1981 at Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., Capt. Thomas H. Anderson in command.
On 11 July 1981, only three and a half months after commissioning, Bremerton steamed down the Thames River, past her building yard, for the last time. She crossed the equator for the first time on 21 July 1981, initiating her crewmen into King Neptune’s Realm as shellbacks. On 25 July, off the Cape of Good Hope, Bremerton passed under the operational control of Commander Task Force 74 and the Pacific Fleet. The submarine spent the following two months in the Indian Ocean, conducting independent and coordinated operations in direct support of the battle group.
Bremerton moored alongside destroyer tender Dixie (AD-14) at Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, on 27 September, having spent 77 days continuously at sea. Two days later, she sailed from Diego Garcia for her first foreign liberty port, Perth, Western Australia. Bremerton moored at HMAS Stirling, the Royal Australian Navy’s station at Garden Island, from 5–12 October. The submarine’s historian noted that “the hospitality and friendliness of the Western Australians will be long remembered.”
On 25 October 1981, Bremerton fell under the operational control of Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, and joined Submarine Squadron 7. Nearly 36,000 miles and 110 days after leaving her birthplace, Bremerton steamed into Pearl Harbor, Hi., on 28 October. Loved ones met the crewmen at the submarine base with the traditional Hawaiian welcome, including hula girls and leis.
Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier New Carissa, bound for Coos Bay, Ore., to pick up a loud of wood chips, ran aground near the entrance to the bay during foul weather on 4 February 1999. All of the ship’s crewmembers escaped but heavy seas continually drove her further ashore, and when cracks appeared in the hull, the authorities decided to discontinue further salvage attempts and sink the ship to prevent further oil leaks -- the spreading oil eventually inflicted enormous environmental damage -- or a hazard to navigation. Bremerton received rapid tasking to sink the grounded ship, and she made for the area, but the by the time she arrived early the following month, the salvage efforts had torn the ship into two sections. Civilian ocean going tugs Sea Victory and Natoma towed New Carissa’s bow to sea, and destroyer David R. Ray (DD-971) and Bremerton sent her to the bottom with 69 rounds of 5-inch gunfire and a single Mk 48 Advanced Capability torpedo, respectively. The Coast Guard awarded that service’s Unit Commendation to Bremerton. Salvers subsequently dismantled and removed New Carissa’s stern section.
The oldest attack boat in commission traditionally carries Rear Adm. Richard H. O’Kane’s cribbage board in her wardroom. O’Kane received the Medal of Honor for his daring attacks on two Japanese convoys while in command of submarine Tang (SS-306) during her fifth and final patrol in 1944. The Japanese subsequently captured O’Kane and held him captive through the end of World War II. Attack submarine Los Angeles (SSN-688), operating with Submarine Squadron 1, held a decommissioning ceremony in her namesake city on 23 January 2010, and was decommissioned on 4 February 2011. Los Angeles passed O’Kane’s cribbage board to Bremerton.
Bremerton’s namesake city, partnered with community members and organizations led by the Navy League’s Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Council, adopted the boat and her crew in January 2011.
Bremerton set out on her final voyage as a commissioned man of war when she stood down the channel from Pearl Harbor to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Wash. (20–27 April 2018). There, fittingly, she was inactivated on 9 July 2018.
Detailed history pending.
Mark L. Evans
11 July 2018