sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 13, 2005

subs (not the sandwiches; the actual marine vessels)
posted by soe 9:30 pm

Photo: Stephen Dunn/Hartford Courant

I was sorry to see the Groton Naval Submarine Base on today’s list of base closures.

I went to college directly across from the sub base. I have never set foot on their base, but I did enjoy the SubFest fireworks every summer from the bank of the Thames River.

And one of the most extraordinary (and rare) sights you ever came across was when a sub came home from a long-term mission. The subs would surface in the Long Island Sound and come up the river in full sight. Every midshipman not involved in driving the sub up the river would be standing on the deck of the sub in their dress uniforms trying to be the first one to see his loved ones on shore. It was always a moving sight.

[Mum, was there a homecoming sub the day we visited Conn that first time or am I confusing that with another time?]

Because of our proximity to a high-profile nuclear target, the New London phone book did include evacuation instructions. Everyone in the service area was supposed to drive up to the East Hartford High School 50 miles away. I thought it nice they had thought out an evacuation plan, even if it was ridiculously impractical and most of us would die anyway.

Groton, known almost exclusively as the “Submarine Capital of the World,” was home to the first nuclear sub launch, in 1954, of The Nautilus, which now serves as a museum on the base.

As Jesse Hamilton of The Hartford Courant wrote earlier this week, “If this town were a person, the Navy would be its skeleton — the hard strength running through everything, keeping a subtle record of its early growth and the breaks it has suffered through the years. This skeleton might also show the town’s age, how time and pressure have painfully bowed its back.”

Closing the base will devastate the Groton and surrounding environs’ economy. It is likely that Electric Boat, which builds high-powered subs just down the river from the base, will, at the very least, have to cut back its employment. Civilians who work on the base will lose their jobs. And the struggling merchant base will lose much-needed customers.

These were things I didn’t think about when I was younger. I didn’t understand how interconnected and fragile everything was, at least in that regard. I will be paying attention to see how Groton — and other communities in similar straits — will cope with these losses.

Category: politics. There is/are 1 Comment.