Memphis residents lobby for submarine
Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 8:02 pm
MEMPHIS (AP) — A group of U.S. Navy veterans are lobbying for the bridge of the submarine the USS Memphis to retire in its namesake city.
The Memphis Council of the U.S. Navy wants the sail, the top part where the bridge is located, to go on public display in Tennessee.
Cage Carruthers, a former Naval officer on the cruiser USS Arkansas who slept overnight at sea on the Memphis in April 2007, has been in discussions with the Navy for what may take years of planning.
Carruthers told The Memphis Commercial Appeal he feels confident about the city getting the bridge section of the submarine, which is set for de-commissioning on Friday.
“Ideally, it would be nice to have it — whether it’s Confederate Park or some other park — where, when you’re standing back from it and looking to the west, it could be positioned where it looks like the sail is on the Mississippi River, submerged,” said Carruthers, a 52-year-old investment adviser.
The USS Memphis sailed in every ocean during its 33-year history, passing through the Suez and Panama canals and under the northern polar ice cap. It was spying on Russian submarine war games in August 2000 when an explosion aboard the Russian sub Kursk sent it to the bottom of the Barents Sea, killing all 118 sailors aboard.
Carruthers noted that Mobile, Ala., has the USS Drum, a World War II-era submarine, on display, along with the battleship USS Alabama.
At least 22 other cities have submarines on public display, including Muskegon, Mich.; Portsmouth, N.H.; San Francisco; Honolulu; Omaha, Neb.; New York City; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Galveston, Texas, according to the U.S. Navy’s Sea Systems Command. Chicago has World War II German U-Boat 505 at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Liquor wholesaler Hugh Mallory, 39, plans to attend the de-commissioning ceremony in Groton, Conn. Mallory, 39, flew down to the Florida naval facility at Mayport, near Jacksonville, last summer and took a ride on the 362-feet, nuclear-powered behemoth.
“I gotta tell you, being atop the sail, up on the bridge, 50 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, is pretty inspiring,” Mallory said.
He envisions the sail on display at perhaps The Children’s Museum or in a Downtown park.
“It’s quite impressive and, if it’s just going to be scrap, and it could be worked out where it could be brought back to Memphis, that would be wonderful,” he said.
The Memphis has undergone extensive overhauls through its long service history and is now the oldest submarine in the U.S. Navy fleet. A review of its official ship history indicates it left Groton in January 2003 and sailed through the Mediterranean Sea, stopping in Italy and Crete, before transiting the Suez Canal for Bahrain and the Arabian Gulf. It spent 203 days at sea that year, and was the star of a two-part NBC News story narrated by Brian Williams.
In most years, the ship honed its 12 officers’ and 98 enlisted members’ skills in anti-submarine warfare, sometimes in the Tongue of the Ocean, a U-shaped deep-sea trench in the Bahamas. It had a maximum speed of 32 knots (about 35 miles per hour) underwater. There’s a scale model of the submarine in City Hall Downtown.
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com
Published in The Messenger 3.30.11