New Mexico at the Top of the World

May 7, 2014

Story by: Dick Brown

USS New Mexico had the good fortune to be selected for ICEX (Ice Exercise) 2014. In late February she was seen cruising down the Thames River, past USS Nautilus (SSN-571), bound for points north. She transited up the Atlantic seaboard and across the Arctic Circle to the North Pole. There she paused to check on ice conditions in advance of a return visit, then on to Ice Camp Nautilus, 200 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

USS New Mexico at the geographic North Pole

ICEX is organized by the Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL) about every two years. Ice Camp Nautilus is ASL’s temporary village on the icepack consisting of command hut, mess shed, sleeping quarters, runway and heliport. This year’s ICEX was a two-week joint tactical exercise by USA, UK and Canada, and began on March 17th. It not only involved Groton-based USS New Mexico (SSN-779) but also San Diego-based USS Hampton (SSN-767). Below Ice Camp Nautilus, as Russia annexed Crimea, the two submarines rendezvoused for a set of under-ice war games.

Ice Camp Nautilus – note USS New Mexico in center background

With Russia stepping up claims in the Arctic, it is important for our Submarine Force to train and prepare for a wide range of operations in one of the most challenging environments on the planet. ICEX assures continued access to the Arctic region while honing the skills of our submarine crews.
New Mexico surfaced at the edge of the makeshift village and moored to the ice floe. Hampton arrived in the area the next day. The Los Angeles-class boat’s role in the exercise was to simulate a Russian Akula-class submarine. Later a crack or lead split the ice floe right down the runway. With concerns for safety, it was decided to end ICEX 2014 on March 23rd and dismantle Ice Camp Nautilus a little earlier than planned.

USS New Mexico surfacing at Ice Camp

USS Hampton joins ICEX 2014

Guests of the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Jonathan Greenert, himself a submariner, arrived by air from Prudhoe Bay for an under-ice cruise. CDR Todd Moore, Commanding Officer, reported that this ICEX had an exceptionally high level of distinguished visitors (DVs). Besides the CNO they included Undersea Warfare Director RADM Joseph Tofalo, Sub Group Two Commander RDML Ken
Perry, Undersecretary of Defense Frank Kendall, US Senator Angus King (I-ME), Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM), Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, New York Times (NYT) Reporter Thomas Friedman, and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Reporter Julian Barnes.
Our USS New Mexico Committee has been in communication with Julian Barnes. He reported “The New Mexico decorations are quite prominent in the submarine —the New Mexico flag and hot air balloon wall coverings. You can see them in both videos with my ICEX stories.”

Julian adds “They presented us with hot pepper pins when we arrived and served coffee roasted in New Mexico — and the crew was definitely impressed with the dedication of its New Mexico sponsors.”
Julian’s WSJ articles were titled “Cold War Echoes Under the Arctic Ice — American Naval Exercise Using a Russian Submarine Takes On New Importance” and “Life on a Navy Sub Relies on Rules: Some Dead Serious, Others Completely Ridiculous”, published on March 26th and May 1st, respectively. They both reflected very well on USS New Mexico. Earlier, on January 13th, his WSJ article “Arctic Passage Opens Challenges For U.S. Military — Thinning Polar Ice Expected to Give Way to New Commercial Waterways and Resource-Rich Frontier” was published.
Tom Friedman’s NYT article “Parallel Parking in the Arctic Circle — Aboard USS New Mexico in the Arctic” was published on March 29th. He said, “My strongest impression was experiencing something you see too little of these days on land: “Excellence.” You’re riding in a pressurized steel tube undersea. If anyone turns one knob the wrong way on the reactor or leaves a vent open, it can be death for everyone. This produces a unique culture among these mostly 20-something submariners.”
Besides the coverage by WSJ and NYT, the Navy news media ran at least a dozen stories on ICEX and USS New Mexico.

NM Congressman Steve Pearce

Congressman Pearce described his undersea experience, “I had the privilege of participating in the Navy’s ICEX operations. During this two day trip to the Arctic, I took part in a number of briefings, drills, and activities around and aboard the USS New Mexico — showcasing the mission and capabilities of the ship. In addition to the operations being conducted, I was able to interact on a one-on-one basis with the sailors aboard the USS New Mexico.”

Distinguished visitors prepare to board New Mexico

CNO with YN1(SS) Gaines, note red chile ristra upper right

CNO presentation to the officers and crew of USS New Mexico, accepting is Executive Officer LCDR Craig Litty

Senator King stated, “After touring Camp Nautilus, we made our way over to the USS New Mexico, a Virginia-class nuclear powered attack submarine that had broken through the ice only a few hours earlier. After we boarded, the submarine began its descent down to about 500 feet, where the Navy spent the next 20 hours conducting maneuvers and testing the ship's capabilities beneath the ice. . . Perhaps, however, the most impressive part of the entire trip was the quality of the people serving aboard.”
After the exercise, New Mexico sailors had some “ice liberty” at Ice Camp Nautilus. Then on her return, New Mexico surfaced at the North Pole for some more ice liberty.

Incognito sailor on ice liberty at Ice Station Nautilus

Arctic Village People?

Skipper Todd Moore at the North Pole

Crew at the Top of the World

Ice football at North Pole

US flag at the North Pole

On this trip, New Mexico celebrated her fourth birthday. She was commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk on March 27th 2010 and turned four years old in the Arctic Ocean on March 27th 2014. For her onboard celebration, the ship’s culinary specialists crafted a special birthday cake.

Happy Birthday, USS New Mexico!

Before returning to port in Groton on Good Friday, the boat made a week-long port call in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Photos Courtesy of US Navy

In Memory – Leo Davis (1922-2013)

Leo was a combat submariner and Fire Control Technician during WWII (1942-1946), earning the Bronze Star & various campaign medals. His battle station was in the conning tower of USS Cod (SS-224). Leo was one of 15 crewmen who made all seven war patrols. His old boat survives today as a submarine museum in Cleveland. In life after the Navy, Leo was a journeyman electrician and electrical contractor; president of SubVets WWII, Sandia Base; and a USSVI Holland Club member. He was a charter member the Navy League USS New Mexico Committee.

Leo Davis

Leo’s wish to be buried at sea was fulfilled by USS New Mexico, but in such a way and in such a place that he could never have imagined. His cremains were consigned to the deep, shot from torpedo tube #1, while submerged at the North Pole.

In Memory - Shep Jenks (1926-2014)

In 1956, LT Shepherd “Shep” Jenks reported aboard USS Nautilus as the Navigator. It was a challenging role as he guided Nautilus on the first-ever transpolar under-ice voyage, passing under the North Pole on August 3, 1958. Sadly, Shep passed away on March 26, 2014 at age 87, while USS New Mexico operated in the Arctic, nearly 60 years after the commissioning of the world’s first nuclear submarine.
Shep Jenks was a graduate of the Naval Academy, Class of ’49. After Nautilus, he was the commissioning engineer on USS George Washington (SSBN-598), the CO of USS Skipjack (SSN-585), the CO of Nuclear Power Training Unit, the CO of USS Abraham Lincoln (SSBN-602) and the CO of USS Fulton (AS-11). He retired with the rank of Captain in 1971. After working for Bechtel for ten years, Shep had a new calling and became an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church. Reverend Jenks performed funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery for retired RADM Richard O’Kane, WWII Medal of Honor recipient, in 1994 and for retired CAPT William Anderson, his former commanding officer of Nautilus, in 2007.

Rev Shep Jenks

Shep Jenks was a longtime member of the Naval Submarine League and the Navy League of the United States. He served on the Navy League’s USS New Mexico Committee in the early days, when he and wife Nancy lived in Albuquerque, and delivered the invocation at the naming ceremony with Secretary of the Navy Gordon England in December 2004. Shep and Nancy were living in Vallejo, California at the time of his death.

USS New Mexico Family Times April 2014

April, 2014

Three more videos of USS New Mexico at Ice Camp Nautilus.


Dick Brown

First, Rear Admiral Perry, COMSUBGRUTWO, with USS New Mexico at ICEX base camp.

Second, DVs disembarking from the boat.

Lastly, CNO on bridge, crew clearing ice from topside.

We have one REALLY COOL sub!

USS New Mexico surfacing in a polynya (area of open water or thin ice) at Ice Camp Nautilus on March 22, 2014.


Dick Brown

ICEX 2014: Navigating the World's Last Frontier

3/27/2014 9:11:00 AM

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Julianne Metzger, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

ICE CAMP NAUTILUS (NNS) -- The Navy's top admiral, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, spent time last weekend at the Navy's Arctic Ice Camp and embarked aboard the USS New Mexico (SSN 779) as it participated in Ice Exercise 2014 (ICEX) with USS Hampton (SSN 767) beneath the Arctic Ocean.

"It's necessary to continue to ensure our systems, our sensors, our weapons and our platforms as we move to the Virginia-class submarine are proficient to operate correctly in the Arctic," said Greenert. "And it's also to build the next generation of submarine folks who will operate in the Arctic."

The mission of the ICEX is to train in the Arctic environment to refine and validate procedures and required equipment, as the Arctic Ocean serves as a route for submarines to transit in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

CNO has touted undersea dominance and the Arctic maritime domain as essential areas of focus for the Navy. Understandably, this exercise created a great opportunity to merge these two focus areas and learn within the environment and build a knowledge base for operations there.

The Arctic has been and will be a focus area for the Navy in years to come, said Greenert.

The President released the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region in January. The Department of Defense is preparing for possible changes in the Arctic's operating conditions due to the discussion of climate change and receding ice.

ICEX will continue to expand to a more comprehensive exercise in the future, said Greenert.

"We'll leverage what we've learned in this and future ICEX assessments to work with our partners in industry to develop technologies for our other platforms and personnel who will operate in this environment," he said.

The CNO's visit began in the nation's northernmost point, Prudhoe Bay, Ala. From there, CNO like other scientists and international partners, flew 150 miles north to Ice Camp Nautilus. The ice camp, adrift on the Arctic sea ice, supports the overall ice exercise conducted by the Submarine Force and the Arctic Submarine Laboratory.

Of his first impressions of the camp, "Isn't it astounding that here is one of our pieces of sovereignty out in the middle of the ice, surfacing, and then its crew waiting as if we were walking down a pier in Connecticut, San Diego, Norfolk, or Bremerton [to board]," said Greenert.

Despite the frigid conditions the submarine people were acting as though it was business as normal, said Greenert.

"Once we got onboard, the camaraderie the awareness of the crew that they were doing something special was impressive," said Greenert. "The crew was very proud, and the ownership the crew had for their ship and systems was extraordinary."

Operating in the undersea domain can be problematic, but the added challenge of operating beneath the ice requires a special kind of precision, said Greenert.

"In the back of your mind if trouble ever emerges - if you have flooding or a serious fire you head to the surface," said Greenert, who is also a former submariner. "You can't do that in the Arctic, with ice all around and above you."

Witnessing the alertness, awareness and teamwork the New Mexico crew displayed while surfacing through the ice elicited applause from the ICEX visitors aboard, said Greenert.

The vastness and beauty of the arctic combined with the unforgiving environment is something that is a highlight of his 38-year naval career, said the admiral. "The extraordinary nature of being able to go to the North Pole, I'm still trying to internalize it," said Greenert.

RIP - Captain Shepherd “Shep” M. Jenks, USN(Ret)

March 27, 2014

Cold War Echoes Under The Arctic Ice American Naval Exercise Using A Russian Submarine Takes On New Importance

March 26, 2014

Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal

BENEATH THE ARCTIC OCEAN -– Five hundred feet below the Arctic ice cap, the USS New Mexico's crew filled two torpedo tubes. "Match sonar bearings and shoot," ordered the skipper, Cmdr. Todd Moore. The air pressure rose sharply as a simulated torpedo headed toward its simulated target: a Russian Akula-class submarine.
The Arctic exercise, one of two over this past weekend, was intended as a show of U.S. force for the benefit of America's allies, defense officials said. The drills were arranged before Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea province, these people said, but have taken on new geopolitical significance as tensions soar between East and West.
The simulated attack came amid a new era of increasingly cold U.S. relations with Moscow. U.S.-Russian cooperation in the Arctic came to a sudden halt after the U.S. recently canceled a joint naval exercise in the northern waters and a bilateral meeting on Coast Guard Arctic operations. The U.S. also put on hold work on an Arctic submarine rescue partnership.
"This trip had a slightly different cast to it because hunting mythical submarines took on more urgency," said Sen. Angus King (I., Maine), who came as an observer. "This is the only ocean where we confront each other."
Defense officials said they chose a Russian simulated sub as the target because that was the only other nation that operates in the Arctic. Moreover, these people said the exercise wasn't a signal that the U.S. sees a military conflict on the horizon.
Russian officials didn't respond to a request to comment.
Across the Arctic Ocean, the U.S. has been conducting ice exercises with submarines since 1947. During the 1980s, the Navy had three ice camps a year, a frequency that declined rapidly after the Cold War's end. The Navy is considering a renewed commitment to the Arctic as a retreating ice sheet opens up new sea lanes and makes oil exploration more feasible.
As part of the exercise, which took place 150 miles off the north coast of Alaska, the Navy sent two subs beneath the Arctic Ocean to test their ability to operate, punch through the ice, find other submarines, hide and fire their torpedoes. The Navy publicized its exploits on social media.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, who viewed the exercise, said showcasing American subs' ability to operate and to collect intelligence in any corner of the world undetected is critical to U.S. security. The U.S. has a fleet of 72 subs compared with Russia's approximate 60.
"If our allies and friends are reassured, that is a deterrent," said Adm. Greenert. "It is about being able to get to any area of the world and people understanding that we can."
The same weekend, 440 U.S. Marines concluded another Arctic exercise, this one in northern Norway with other allied troops, near the Russian border.
Norway says it plans to continue cooperating with Russia on search-and-rescue missions in the Arctic, but is reviewing its military-to-military cooperation with Moscow, said Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide. Norway is building a $125 million pier to help make it easier to move American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization military gear in and out of the country, U.S. defense officials said.
Ms. Soreide said she didn't want to remilitarize the border. "At the same time we do have, and want to have, situational awareness for our own country and the alliance," she said in an interview.
Across the Arctic Ocean, Ice Camp Nautilus, this year's base, was named after the first sub to transit the Arctic in 1958. Basically a tent and some temporary wooden shacks perched on a cracked and shifting chunk of ice, the camp conducted a variety of Arctic experiments and tests, including the ability of a new Navy satellite system to send and transmit classified data more reliably in the high north than older satellites.
This year, the first ice exercise since 2011, the Navy sent two subs – the USS New Mexico and the USS Hampton, an older Los Angeles class.
Inside the New Mexico, many of the crew was trying to pay close attention to Crimea. But underwater for weeks at a time, the crew was cut off from news reports, save for what comes from an encrypted, very-low-frequency radio signal that penetrates the ice and delivers a news report a page and a half long.
Petty Officer Third Class Christopher Willis, who was drawn to undersea service by devouring tales of submarine prowess in the Cold War, was skeptical there would be a submarine shooting war soon. The real importance of America's undersea fleet is its intelligence gathering, he said.
"It is not about putting warheads on foreheads," he said. "It is about finding out things."
Adm. Greenert said that despite tensions with Russia, he didn't foresee a return to a military competition in the Arctic and hopes to restart cooperation.
But for at least a portion of the exercise, the simulated fight raged as Cmdr. Moore demonstrated his sub's ability. As the crew prepared to fire the simulated torpedo, Sen. King asked Cmdr. Moore if there were Russian subs in the Arctic. The commander said Russian forces were usually found closer to their bases on Russia's northern coast. But, he emphasized, a sub crew must always be listening. "We never assume we are out here alone," he said.


March 25, 2014

There's news all over the Internet on ICEX 2014 and the closing of Ice Camp Nautilus. Here's two really cool Navy photos of "our" sub released through AP.

In this March 22 photo provided by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard USS New Mexico tie mooring lines after the submarine surfaced through the arctic ice at Ice Camp Nautilus, north of Alaska. Cracks in polar sea ice prompted the Navy to break down the camp that provided support for ICEX 2014. The commander of submarine forces ordered an early end to Ice Camp Nautilus because shifts in winds created instabilities in ice floes. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Joshua Davies)

Note USS New Mexico in background of this March 22 photo provided by the U.S. Navy, surfaced near Ice Camp Nautilus. U.S. NAVY, JOSHUA DAVIES — AP Photo

Some DVs made it. Among the weekend visitors to the camp was U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine. He landed Saturday in a single-engine airplane and toured the USS New Mexico, which had burst through polar ice. King stayed onboard the submarine for 20 hours, observing as it dove to 500 feet and broke back through the ice.

Greetings from Sea!

February 14, 2014

The crew of USS NEW MEXICO has just endured several weeks of family separation, at-sea evolutions in extremely bad weather, training new guys to meet exacting standards...yet in the message below the Commanding Officer, CDR Todd Moore, mentions how we back here in sunny New Mexico inspire pride in the crew. Most assuredly it is the other way around.

Greetings from sea! from CDR Todd Moore.

USS NEW MEXICO is on the surface once again, about to conclude a four-week at-sea period of great successes.

Our operations began on 21 January, when we cast off lines in a blinding snowstorm. Leaving our wives behind to shovel the driveways, we left Groton and headed out through Long Island Sound. Fortunately, the heavy snow, sub-freezing temperatures, and 30-knot winds kept all the little guys off the water and we drove free of interference out to our dive point.

That's not to say our surfaced transit was not without incident. As you know, we have had about 20% crew turnover since our last deployment and have a lot of green hands about. Many of them were not prepared for life in a steel tube rolling amidst 12-foot breaking seas. They are now! (At least most of them have got their sea legs.)

We dove as soon as we could and immediately began the training, drills, and evolutions that make a crew into a fighting team. Alternating between days of classroom training and days practicing fire, flooding, and various other calamities, we have steadily built the proficiency of Team NEW MEXICO. In the process, many Sailors have qualified new watch stations, we've had a few reenlistments, and I've had the pleasure to hand out several awards for outstanding service.

As I type this, we are headed back to port for a little R&R and to load the boat out again. The skills our crew has built up over the past four weeks will be put to the test very soon as USS NEW MEXICO heads out on a mini-deployment. While I can't go into the details of our upcoming operations, know that New Mexico will be well represented in some very high profile events.. The next time I write you, I'll have a lot to talk about!

Once again, thanks to you and the great USS NEW MEXICO Committee. Your hospitality, generosity, and interest continue to inspire tremendous and deserved pride amongst my crew.

Best regards,

CDR Todd Moore
Commanding Officer

First Grader Impressions of Submarine New Mexico

February 7, 2014

Not long ago, first graders at Comanche Elementary School in Albuquerque wrote brief letters, accompanied by artwork, to the crew of USS New Mexico. These six and seven-year olds of Renee Ortega's and Marvin Callahan's classes studied the submarine's website in class before composing their messages to the crew and before developing their priceless works of art. The kids now await answers from the individual members of the crew.

Renee Ortega is the daughter of Joyce Pullen, Navy League board member and former chief of staff for 6-term US Senator Pete Domenici who helped get the names Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and New Mexico for our three namesake fast-attack submarines.

Below is a sampling of one-liners and colorful drawings from the batch of 48 letters.

Thank you for protecting our country - Phineas
Thank you for saving the world - Sarit
Do you ixplor (explore) the oshin (ocean)? Thank you for being brave - Kylee
Why do you go on a submarine? - Myah
Is it scary or fun? - Alyssa
Is it scary down there? - Leland
Do you move slow or fast? - Cruz
Are any Navy Seals on board? - Ian


January 30, 2014

Craig E. Litty
Lieutenant Commander, USN
Executive Officer

Lieutenant Commander Litty, a native of House Springs, Missouri enlisted in the Navy in 1992 and served as a Hospital Corpsman until his selection to the Seaman to Admiral Program in 1999. He graduated from the University of North Florida in 2001 with a degree in Biology and was commissioned following completion of Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL.

Following nuclear power and submarine officer training, Lieutenant Commander Litty reported aboard USS SAN FRANCISCO (SSN 711) and served as the Chemistry and Radiological Controls Assistant and the Damage Control Assistant. His second sea tour was as the Engineer Officer, USS BUFFALO (SSN 715).

Ashore, Lieutenant Commander Litty served as the Aide to Commander, US Naval Forces Marianas in Agana, Guam and as the Engineer Officer of Submarine Squadron FIFTEEN.

In December 2011, Lieutenant Commander Litty reported to US Naval War College as a student where he graduated with distinction, completing a Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. He also served as the US representative in Class 82 of the Naval Staff College.

Following completion of the Submarine Command Course Lieutenant Commander Litty reported as Executive Officer aboard USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779) in December 2012.

Lieutenant Commander Litty is a recipient of various personal and campaign awards including the Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4 awards), the Army Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 awards).

Lieutenant Commander Litty is married to Sheila Litty of Cedar Hill, MO, and resides in Westerly, RI. His son Alex Litty attends the University of Missouri at Rolla, and his daughter Chelsea attends Michigan State University.

Click here for large version of photo.

Message from CDR Todd Moore,
USS New Mexico SSN-779

December 17, 2013

Dear Navy League New Mexico Council 779 Committee,

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Sorry to have been out of communication for a while, but we had a (relatively) emergent underway.

U.S. Fleet Forces ordered NEW MEXICO underway the Sunday after Thanksgiving to participate in the certification of the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH Expeditionary Strike Group. While it was a little tough to pull ourselves from our families on a holiday weekend, the crew really came through. We got underway with typical NEW MEXICO flair and charged out to sea to show our stuff.

We also had a chance to embark riders from our parent squadron, Submarine Development Squadron TWELVE, who watched how we do business, were duly impressed, and certified us "Ready for Tasking". (That means we have recovered from the post-deployment crew turnover and are beginning the pre-deployment training period.) We also embarked the Commodore, CAPT Vern Parks, for a ride back up to Groton.

Hope your weather is warmer than ours!


USS New Mexico (SSN-779)
Crew Visit

Photos By Rick Carver (Unless otherwise noted)

October 4-8, 2013

Click here to view Crew Visit photos.

Click here to view Northstar Elementary School Letters to SSN-779.

USS New Mexico (SSN-779)
Change of Command

Photos By Rick Carver (Unless otherwise noted)

September 16, 2013

Click here to view Change of Command photos.

The Groton Safari
The USS New Mexico SSN-779 returns home from its first deployment

                Click here to view photos.

                Click here to view video.

By Rick Carver

August 22, 2013

The opportunity to be a part of the USS New Mexico homecoming was a privilege and an honor. Being able to photograph the event was even better. I must acknowledge the assistance from COMSUBRON 4, Public Affairs, the Family Readiness Group and the New Mexico Ombudsman. I must also give thanks to Commander George Perez and the crew of the USS New Mexico for allowing me to ride the boat into the sub base. I attended this homecoming representing the USS New Mexico Committee and the Navy League New Mexico Council.

Arrangements were made through COMSUBRON4 to ride one of the tugs out to meet the New Mexico at the mouth of the Thames River. Past the Nautilus Museum, beyond the Interstate 95 Bridge, beyond the Coast Guard Academy and past the Electric Boat Division we headed to open water. Through the mist and haze the shape of the USS New Mexico appeared. As we got closer I could see the flags of the United States, and New Mexico. Once we made our approach I transferred to the New Mexico leaving the tug, John Wronowski behind. I eventually made my way up to the bridge and was greeted by CDR Perez and CDR Todd Moore soon to be the next CO of 779.

As we passed under the I-95 Bridge we were greeted by a canon salute provided by a local submarine veteran’s group. Approaching the Groton Sub Base we were greeted by blasts from the horns of other submarines including the USS California and the USS Providence. Just outside the Pier 31 gate, some 300 family members waited patiently as the New Mexico finally docked. The crew in their dress whites lined the deck and waited for the all clear. The families once on the pier waited for the traditional “first kiss” followed by the rest of the crew. The initial hugs and kisses lasted about an hour or so, and one by one they began to vanish for some real reunion time.

The many photos are meant to support this short article celebrating the homecoming of the USS New Mexico from its first deployment. 779 performed its mission with great efficiency.

The USS New Mexico was commissioned in March 2010 at the Norfolk Navy Base in Virginia. She is a Virginia Class Nuclear Attack Submarine.

USS New Mexico on Her Way Home

by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee

July 25, 2013

USS NEW MEXICO will soon be returning from her maiden 6-month deployment, and her support team, the USS New Mexico Committee, has been working with various organizations in Groton, CT on homecoming preparations.

The committee's official homecoming representative will be Rick Carver, photographer extraordinaire.  The Navy is arranging for him to ride one of the tugs that will meet the boat and escort her up the Thames River to the Sub Base.  Besides the great photo opportunities, some of Rick's other missions include delivering nine Sailor of the Quarter plaques to the Chief of the Boat and meeting with the Commanding Officer, CDR George Perez, and the next CO, CDR Todd Moore (who is riding the boat back from her last port of call), about committee support for an upcoming Change of Command ceremony and reception in mid-September.

NEW MEXICO returning from sea in March 2012.  US Navy photo.

The committee has been working closely with the boat's Family Readiness Group on "goodie" bags for the boat's single sailors and miniature NM and US flags for the homecoming crowd on the pier.

Here is the latest update to Committee Chairman Dick Brown from the Commanding Officer:


Just received email #7.  Understand Rick will be the committee rep.  Let me know if there is any problem with getting Rick onto the tug.  There should not be as we will be disembarking several riders prior to mooring.  We will most definitely be flying the New Mexico State flag upon our arrival.  As you know, there is not much room on the pigstick but I'll fly the biggest flag I can.  Recognize that it will be flying next to the US flag.  Recommend Rick have a pretty good zoom lens for his camera so he can get a good shot.  I'll have the New Mexico flag flying on the outboard lanyard on the starboard side of the ship.

I'm certain if the Commodore has promised first class treatment, Rick will get it.  I expect no problems with getting Rick on the tug.  It's the logistics of getting him back to the pier in time that may be the sticky point.  The tug should moor at Subase ahead of us, then he'll have to scoot down the waterfront to whichever pier we are mooring at.  Please make sure LT Hawkins makes all arrangements to allow Rick to take photographs.  Generally it's not a problem on homecoming days.  The PAO should be able to address the necessary requirements to allow Rick to have his camera operational on the pier and tug. 

Of note, we will be hosting Commodore Holland's Change of Command for Submarine Squadron Four.  CAPT Jim Waters will be relieving.  Change of Command for the Commodore will be on 30 August and will be held onboard NEW MEXICO. 

We look forward to the plaques.  I've issued several quarterly awards to our deserving sailors and will have one more presentation to go prior to change of command.  Should be no problem on the photo op in the CO stateroom.  I'll take the pictures while CDR Moore is onboard prior to arrival in port just in case we don't have the time to coordinate while all parties are available.  I would like to have the photo powerpoint on display at the reception following change of command.  It will run continuously for about 1 to 1.5 hours or so.  I'd like a mix of boat and crew photos, preferably from CoC to CoC.  Thank you in advance for the goodie bags.  I'm certain the crew will appreciate them.  It's good to hear that we are continuing to build that relationship, committee to FRG. As for the mini-flags...that is going to make an impressive sight!  Make sure Rick gets a photo of that.

The ship and crew are doing great.  Morale continues to be excellent despite being over the five-month mark for deployment.  The crew is definitely looking forward to getting home but if duty calls, they won't hesitate to stay on the front line for as long as needed.  It has been extremely rewarding watching the crew hone their skills over the course of the deployment.  For over half the crew, this was their first deployment.  They have all enjoyed the liberty in foreign ports, particularly for the many sailors who had never left CONUS.  New Mexicans everywhere can be proud of their boat's performance.  I can assure you, it was and is superb.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.


CDR George Perez
Commanding Officer

This email from the CO not only shows how well the crew is doing, but how intimate the USS New Mexico Committee is with the submarine, the CO, the Squadron Commodore, and the Sub Group Admiral and his staff.  To quote committee vice chairman Damon Runyan, "I can't imagine a situation where a small committee 2,000 miles away from a sub's homeport has more day-to-day involvement than our committee has with CDR Perez; the new incoming CO, CDR Moore; the COB, Master Chief Fritzler; the Squadron and Group Public Affairs Officer, LT Hawkins; and the FRG.  Wow, this relationship has got to be unique and among the very best ever enjoyed by one single naval vessel."

NEW MEXICO on the Thames River.  US Navy photo.

The committee is most grateful for the cooperation of the Atlantic Submarine Fleet.  Unless Rick drops his camera overboard, there should be a splendid record of NEW MEXICO's return from overseas.  In fact, some of his photos will be integrated into the multi-image slide show that the skipper referenced.  As vice chairman Runyan says, "We are so very lucky to have USS NEW MEXICO as "our" submarine and I'm sure the crew is just as pleased to have our committee behind them every step of the way."


Royal Navy Submariner Earns Dolphins the American Way

Courtesy of

June 18, 2013

Thank you notes from 4th and 5th grade students at the Southwest Learning Center Charter School following a visit from LCDR Damon Runyan, USN(Ret)

June 6, 2013

Click to View More

Update from CDR George Perez

May 15, 2013

Friends and Families of NEW MEXICO,

As we near the middle of our first deployment, I take pleasure in reporting that your ship and crew have performed exceptionally since departing Groton, CT in February.  While I cannot go into the specifics, I can provide some general insights.  First and foremost has been the resiliency of the crew to keep NEW MEXICO on the front lines, often with heroic efforts on the deckplates.  As you might imagine, operating the most complex warship ever built by man in one of the harshest environments on the planet does not come without the occasional material issue.  We have had our share on NEW MEXICO but in every case, the men onboard have either worked tirelessly to correct the problem, or they have implemented mitigating measures to maintain our operational capability.  These efforts were instrumental in allowing NEW MEXICO to meet ALL operational tasking on time with NO reduction in capability.  It has truly been inspiring to watch your sailors in action doing what they have trained their entire careers for - operating this warship at sea.

Life at sea has been challenging, particularly for those not used to extended operations without the ability to communicate with friends and family.  This is probably equally if not more challenging for those at home.  As difficult as it is, all of the sailors onboard understand and appreciate the need for such a strict communications posture.  I can only encourage those of you at home to continue to reach out to your sailors as often as you possibly can using Sailormail and FAMILY GRAMS.  If you are not familiar with these tools, please contact the OMBUDSMAN for assistance.  I cannot stress enough how meaningful it is to your sailors when they receive communications from home.  Your efforts in this area do not go unappreciated even though it may be months before you receive a reply based solely on the nature of our operations.

In other areas, we've had our share of challenges.  As you can imagine, running out of crunchy peanut butter and bacon were crisis situations that had to be managed properly.  Timely intervention by some of our Chief Petty Officers was able to mitigate the impact of these near catastrophic events.  Qualifications have been superb as nearly every division onboard has made huge gains in this area.  The long periods at sea have provided ample opportunities to excel in this area for every sailor onboard.  

On the liberty front, as we enjoy our third port call, the crew has enjoyed the exposure to new cultures that can only be experienced with a port call in a foreign port.  Many of our sailors joined the Navy to see the world, and for the first time in many of their careers, they are getting that opportunity.  Their conduct ashore has been exemplary and I assure you that their role as ambassadors of the United States and the Navy is in very capable hands... 

As we complete this port call, our preparations for the second half of deployment are rapidly coming to a close.  The few material items requiring assistance from the home front have all been resolved.  Food stores have been topped off with the final stores load yesterday.  Critical spare parts have been received, communications with friends and family have been reestablished, and everything is going well.  We've transferred off our few augmentees and received a handful of new personnel.  Now, with everything in place, we will again take our position on the front line.

In closing, I can assure you that NEW MEXICO's reputation has only grown since our arrival in theater.  The performance of the ship and crew has been outstanding and I have every confidence that the legacy we have established will remain with NEW MEXICO for decades to come.  Of course, we could not do what we do without your continued support of the ship, the crew, and the families at home.  Thank you!

Warmest Regards

CDR George Perez
Commanding Officer

National Recognition for La Posta de Mesilla

by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee

Photos courtesy Rick Carver

May 8, 2013

USA Today has included La Posta de Mesilla, just days before Cinco de Mayo, on its list of the top ten Mexican restaurants in the nation. Housed in an 18th-century adobe building, La Posta is a historic landmark and is widely known for its enchiladas, carne adovada and other traditional New Mexican dishes.

USS New Mexico crewmembers join La Posta staff

"It's great for a local place to get recognized like that," said Capt. Tom Hutchinson, USN(Ret) who owns La Posta restaurant along with his wife Jerean.

Tom & Jerean Hutchinson at galley door onboard USS New Mexico

This national recognition is doubly important because the Hutchinson’s have adopted the galley aboard USS New Mexico. It is affectionately known to our undersea warriors as “La Posta Abajo del Mar” or “La Posta Beneath the Sea.” The submarine’s culinary specialists have been trained at La Posta in New Mexico cuisine, in fact, every other Tuesday onboard is Fajita Tuesday. When the culinary specialists complete their qualifications onboard, the Supply Officer gives them a La Posta hat as an award of sorts. The La Posta-submarine connection does not stop there as the restaurant gift shop offers all sorts of USS New Mexico memorabilia and there is a 2-foot model of the submarine permanently anchored in the restaurant lobby.

La Posta Abajo del Mar

Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo to commemorate a military victory, but in the USA, the day is a great excuse to head out for tacos, margaritas and other Mexican favorites. In order of closest proximity to Mexico, here is the top ten:

La Posta de Mesilla, NM
Café Poco Casa, Tucson, AZ
Las Casuelas Terraza, Palm Springs, CA
Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen, Houston, TX
Nachomama's Tex-Mex, St. Louis, MO
Panchero's Mexican Grill, Iowa City, IA
Alma Cocina, Atlanta, GA
Uncle Julio's Hacienda, Chicago, IL
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Washington, DC
Rosa Mexicano, New York, NY

Congratulations to La Posta de Mesilla, clearly one of the best Mexican restaurants in the nation, and as locals have always known, the place for true New Mexico cuisine.

Spring Edition of the USS New Mexico Family Times

April 15, 2013

Click Here to View the Full Publication

USS New Mexico (SSN-779) and USS New Mexico (BB-40) Featured in La Cronica de Nuevo Mexico

by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee

April 2, 2013

Click Here to View the Full Publication

A Glimpse into BB-40' Early Years

by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee

Photos Courtesy of the Harry Brewster Family

Battleship NEW MEXICO was commissioned into the fleet on May 20, 1918 as the Navy' first and only electric-drive battleship.  She was a standout among her direct-drive, coal-burning sisters.  At 32,000 tons, she was the largest battleship built to date and the first to have a clipper bow.

From the highs of the Roaring 20s to the lows of the Depression 30s, USS NEW MEXICO (BB-40) conducted routine patrols in both the Pacific and the Atlantic, "showing the flag" and conveying goodwill to various foreign nations.

In 1920, under the command of Capt. Arthur Willard, and with the ship' slogan "Let' Go!", NEW MEXICO visited West Coast ports and then cruised to Hawaii.  She spent some time in drydock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington (see stern view above).  At the time, her foremast and mainmast were caged rather than solid structures.  After a visit in Seattle, she cruised south and entered San Francisco Bay.

NEW MEXICO again entered drydock, this time at Hunters Point Shipyard in southeastern San Francisco.  Here, ship' company repainted the hull.  And speaking of the hull, note the sliding rack protruding from the port torpedo tube.

Rickety Scaffolding Suspended along the 624-ft Length of the Ship
while Drydocked at Hunters Point Shipyard, San Francisco, California

BB-40 was built at a cost of $21 million.  She had nine oil-fired boilers, three per boiler compartment, delivering steam to two giant 16,000-hp turbine-generators (17 feet wide and 53 feet long) which powered four 12-foot high, 7,000-hp electric motors, one for each propeller shaft.  With such an efficient power-train, NEW MEXICO could reach a top speed of 21 knots. 

Main Switchboard and Control Station Showing
Levers for Reversing and Changing Speed

Auxiliary Steering by Handwheels, One of Several Emergency Steering Methods

One of Six 300 KW Auxiliary Turbo-generators for Lighting
and Non-propulsion Electrical Machinery

Crew Members Sitting on Propellers; Line of Armor Belt above Propellers

From Hunters Point, NEW MEXICO cruised down the California Coast to San Pedro Naval Base near Los Angeles from which she conducted fleet exercises.  She then headed west to Hawaii Territory where she made port calls at Honolulu and Hilo.  Crew members were able to visit Kilauea Crater on the Big Island and witness active lava flows at night.

Loading Ammunition from Barge for 14-inch Guns

USS NEW MEXICO Moored in Honolulu.

The clock tower on the right may have inspired development of the Aloha Tower in 1926.  That 184-foot tower has served as a guiding beacon and a welcome landmark to ships arriving in the port of Honolulu.

Street in Downtown Honolulu in 1920

NEW MEXICO became the first flagship of the Pacific Fleet and participated in exercises and competitions with other first-line battleships. 

Mail Call

Note the giant ‘E’ on NEW MEXICO' stack.  She won more battle ‘E’ awards than any other battleship; in fact, she won the coveted Battle ‘E’ Pennant for superior gunnery, engineering and battle efficiency in 1920-21 and again in 1927-28 and 1929-30. 

Inspection on Forecastle, Port Side

Early in 1921, USS NEW MEXICO made a 6,000-mile goodwill voyage to Chile.  Outbound from Panama Canal Zone, she was the lead ship among seven Pacific Fleet battleships, including NEW MEXICO' classmates, USS MISSISSIPPI (BB-41) and USS IDAHO (BB-42); older-class battleships USS WYOMING (BB-32), USS ARKANSAS (BB-33), USS NEW YORK (BB-34) and USS TEXAS (BB-35); plus 20 destroyers and six auxiliaries.  Collectively, this fleet exceeded 28,000 sailors!  NEW MEXICO was the flagship for Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander-in-Chief of the newly designated U.S. Pacific Fleet.

It is interesting to note that at the same time, seven battleships of the Atlantic Fleet, including the flagship USS PENNSYLVANIA (BB-38), 19 destroyers and three auxiliaries transited the Panama Canal and cruised to Callao, Peru.  The other Atlantic battleships were USS DELAWARE (BB-28), USS NORTH DAKOTA (BB-29), USS UTAH (BB-31), USS NEVADA (BB-36), USS OKLAHOMA (BB-37) and USS ARIZONA (BB-39).  Incidentally, during his naval career, Rodman served as Commanding Officer of DELAWARE and NEW YORK.

The Good Ship NEW MEXICO Plunges South

NEW MEXICO crossed the equator at latitude 00-00, longitude 80-56W, just off the coast of Ecuador, on January 24, 1921, with 1,621 Landlubbers and 32 Sea-faring Shellbacks onboard.  Chief Boatswain' Mate Harry Brewster of "R" Division, known as "Kid Brewster", was quoted as saying "I will never forget it."  He was referring to King Neptune' initiation into the "Solemn Mysteries of the Orders of the Deep".

Chief Boatswain' Mate Harry C. Brewster on the Boat Deck


Admiral Rodman' Dining Room during Chile Cruise
(Normally Captain Willard' Dining Room) with Mahogany Furnishings 

Officer' Wardroom

Crew' Lounge for Reading, Writing & Reception

Ship' Galley

All-Electric Bake Shop

Ship' Laundry

Inspections Starboard Aft, Coal-burning Battleships follow BB-40

Older class battleships, as in this photo, had port and starboard high-gun platforms, appearing from a distance as flying bridges.

Swabbing the Deck


Navigating Bridge

Housed on the navigating bridge are two engine order telegraphs, chart table, and helmsman station (in front of chart table) for steering by the use of a transmitting lever.

Crew Members on Forecastle

Note one of the ship' bells hanging from the searchlight platform on the foremast above the conning tower.

36-inch Searchlight on Foremast

Chiefs and Officers including Capt. Arthur Willard, Commanding
Officer, and Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Older Class Battleships in Background; Sailors in Formation, Port Side Aft

Mess Cook Inspection, Port Side Aft

NEW MEXICO sailors visited the port city of Valparaiso, Chile (where the new President of Chile visited the ship) as well as the capital city of Santiago.  The crew also visited the nearby beach town of Vina del Mar.

Over 500 BB-40 Sailors on Deck, in Masts, on Guns, on Boat
Cranes and Hanging in Radio Antenna Support Structures

USS NEW MEXICO (BB-40) returned to Pearl Harbor on March 6, 1921, after her voyage to Chile. 

USS NEW MEXICO (BB-40) and USS S-7 (SS-112)

While anchored at Pearl Harbor, the submarine USS S-7 glided by, offering a rare camera view of BB-40 with one of our earliest S-boats.  This photo (not part of the Brewster collection) is somewhat foreboding, because nine decades later, there is submarine USS NEW MEXICO (SSN-779).

S-7 was commissioned on July 1st, 1920 so she and BB-40 were of the same vintage.  The submarine was less than a year old and the battleship was just a few years older when the photograph was taken.

Capt. Arthur Lee Willard, Commanding Officer,
USS NEW MEXICO, May 10, 1919 – May 31, 1921
Arthur Willard graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1891.  During the Spanish-American War, he was the first serviceman to raise the American flag on Cuban soil.  He served aboard USS MAINE (BB-10) when she was part of the Great White Fleet' around-the-world journey.  Holding the rank of Captain, Willard was brought in as the new commandant of the Washington Navy Yard where he promptly put things in order.  He supervised the preparation of plans and specifications for placing surplus 16-inch naval guns on railcars for land use on the western front in France in the fall of 1918.  For his invaluable service during WWI, Willard was awarded the Navy Cross by President Wilson.  He then returned to sea duty as the Commanding Officer of USS NEW MEXICO.  Later, attaining 3-star rank, he led a series of fleet exercises that validated the increasing importance of aircraft carriers and the need to launch attacks from beyond the range of battleship guns.  From 1932 until his death in 1935, he commanded the Fifth Naval District.  Willard Park, located at Washington Navy Yard, is named in honor of Vice Admiral Arthur Willard.




by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee

U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/EXW) Jason J. Perry

February 13, 2013

Friends and family wave to USS New Mexico as she transits the Thames River and heads out on her maiden deployment, taking her turn on the front line.

USS New Mexico Calls on New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company

by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee

February 8, 2013

Last July and again last month, the New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company (NMPC) donated some of their award-winning coffee to the crew of USS New Mexico, altogether about 70 pounds! During their recent visit to the state, Commanding Officer George Perez and Chief of the Boat Steve Fritzler wanted to personally thank the owners and staff for their generous contributions.

The visit included a tour of the plant by owners Cindy and Frank Bassett, and son Allen, who just celebrated their 4th anniversary of owning the company. Cindy described how coffee beans and piñon nuts are blended, roasted, packaged and distributed across the state and far beyond. Every year they roast nearly one million pounds of the finest high-altitude Arabica coffee available. As for the nuts from New Mexico’s official state tree, they recently acquired 2,000 pounds of raw piñon from the Gallup area.

Front, L to R: NMPC owners Allen Bassett, Frank Bassett, Cindy Bassett, CDR George Perez, and Committee Chairman Dick Brown. Rear, L to R are NMPC General Manager Kris Hansen and NMPC Production Manager Bryan Reams. Cindy is holding a laser-etched submarine memento presented by the CO as a token of the crew’s appreciation.

With the CO scheduled to visit Governor Susana Martinez the day following the NMPC tour, Cindy donated a bag of the Governor’s favorite for special delivery. It should be noted that NMPC is a 3-time winner of the "National Roasting Award", 2-time winner of the "Best Coffee in the West" - Travel West Magazine, and, among other honors, has been the "Best Selling Coffee" at the New Mexico State Fair for seven years.

The Bassett’s believe that each cup of their coffee will bring a touch of the Land of Enchantment to the crew while deployed overseas and in fact they plan to make regular contributions to the boat. As they say at NMPC, great coffee is a matter of a piñon!


February 7, 2013

Contact: Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee


The video above was taken by KOAT TV, Albuquerque, January 30, 2013, at North Star Elementary. CDR George Perez and ETCM(SS) Steven Fritzler of the USS NEW MEXICO SSN-779 deliver letters from the crew to the school children.

Dick Brown and his 779 Committee Vice Chairman, retired LCDR Damon Runyan, have spearheaded this collaboration opportunity with the USS NEW MEXICO SSN-779 and New Mexico including this letter-writing initiative with North Star Elementary School in Albuquerque. Forty-five students attending the North Star Elementary School sent letters to the crew of the Virginia-class submarine in 2012, to which USS NEW MEXICO Sailors have responded. "We received 45 letters back from individual crew members addressed to the kids," said Brown. "What a wonderful opportunity for a pen-pal exchange."

Copies of the letters submitted by the students of North Star Elementary School can be viewed online at this link:

USS New Mexico CO and Chief of the Boat Visit Namesake State

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander

Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs,

Photos courtesy of Rick Carver

January 31, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Jan. 30, 2013) Cmdr. George Perez, commanding officer, USS New Mexico and his chief of the boat, Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Steven Fritzler pose with New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez in her cabinet room

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (NNS) -- USS New Mexico (SSN 779) commanding officer and chief of the boat visited the Virginia-class attack submarine's namesake state, Jan. 29-31, in honor of the ship's commissioning nearly three years ago.

Cmdr. George Perez, commanding officer, USS New Mexico and his chief of the boat, Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Steven Fritzler met New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM), members of the USS New Mexico Committee and the New Mexico Navy League members.

"As USS New Mexico prepares to depart on her maiden deployment, it is important for us to personally convey to our namesake state and the New Mexico Committee just how much the crew appreciates their support," said Perez.

Dick Brown, chairman, USS New Mexico Committee coordinated the visit as a way to continue forging the strong bonds between the state and their namesake submarine.

"Scheduling a meeting between our governor while the State Legislature is in session and the commanding officer of a submarine is quite a challenge," said Brown. "But it's all part of our committee's work in helping to maintain strong ties between the submarine and its namesake state."

Brown and his committee vice chairman, retired Lt. Cmdr. Damon Runyan, have been spearheading other collaboration opportunities with the boat and the state to include a letter-writing initiative between an Albuquerque-based elementary school. Forty-five students attending the North Star Elementary School sent letters to the crew of the Virginia-class submarine in 2012, to which Sailors have since responded.

"We just received 45 letters back from individual crew members addressed to the kids," said Brown. "What a wonderful opportunity for a pen-pal exchange."

Copies of the letters submitted by the students of North Star Elementary School are also viewable online at the committee's website:

New Mexico was commissioned March 27, 2010 and was the sixth Virginia-class submarine to be commissioned. There are currently 127 officers and enlisted Sailors assigned to New Mexico.

For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit

Happy New Year Message from CDR George Perez

January 8, 2013

NEW MEXICO Family and Friends!

Happy New Year!  I hope all of you had a wonderful and joyous holiday season. I can assure all of you that your NEW MEXICO sailors enjoyed their well-earned vacation over the holiday period.  After a grueling three-month stretch that saw NEW MEXICO complete the second of two Pre-Overseas Movement maintenance availabilities, complete Advanced Pre-deployment Training, and successfully complete an engineering evaluation, the ship and crew needed a period of rest and relaxation before entering the final phases of pre-deployment.  The amount of activity onboard the ship over the last three months has been incredible to say the least.  Multiple agencies, maintenance organizations, and support groups have had a near 24/7 presence onboard getting the ship ready for her inaugural deployment.  Through it all, the crew's performance has been superb.

As I reflect on what has been an outstanding first full year of operations for NEW MEXICO, 2012 was a year to be remembered.  Achieving surge deployment status five months early, strong performances in two major engineering assessments, a strong Supply Management Inspection, a strong performance in our Tactical Readiness Evaluation, strong performances in our 3-M and Quality Assurance assessments, Submarine Command Course Operations, serving as the host platform for the OMSUBLANT Change of Command, outstanding performance in shallow water exercises where we out hit our opposition at a 2-1 rate, and our unparalleled performance against HMS ASTUTE in the US-UK Fellowship 12 Exercise are all testaments to how well the ship and crew have performed.  As I often tell the crew, submarines that perform well across the spectrum of submarine operations are performing at an excellent level.  I am happy to tell you that that holds true for your sailors onboard this ship.  So strong was the ship's performance in 2012, that NEW MEXICO was recognized by COMSUBRON FOUR for outstanding performance in Personnel Readiness and Navigation, earning top honors in Squadron FOUR in these categories.

In addition to the crew's overall strong performance, I'd like to take a moment to recognize five of our sailors for absolutely outstanding individual performance.  For 2012, EM1(SS) Gerhart was selected as NEW MEXICO's Sailor of the Year, MM1(SS) Millsaps was selected as NEW MEXICO's Junior Sailor of the Year, FT3(SS) Watts was selected as NEW MEXICO's Bluejacket of the Year, and LT Michael Rose was selected as NEW MEXICO's Junior Officer of the Year.  On a separate front, HMC(SS/SW/AW) Conner was formally recognized by COMSUBLANT as the Submarine Force's ndependent Duty Corpsman of the Year.  Congratulations to each of these fine warriors for a job well-done.  Each of them is truly an inspiration!

As we turn our sights to 2013, NEW MEXICO will take her place on the front lines during her first overseas deployment.  I couldn't be more proud of what this ship and crew have accomplished and I have every confidence that they will continue to impress each and every one of you in the months ahead.  As always, we could not perform at the level we are without your continued support.  Thank you.

Warmest Regards,

CDR George Perez
Commanding Officer



December 24, 2012

Click on the link below to see the featured story on KRQE TV News 13, December 24, 2012. We wish however, to make the following correction to this interview.

Contrary to this report, past attempts to secure state funding for public outreach have not died in committee. They in fact have made it through all New Mexico Legislative Committees and have passed the New Mexico House and Senate. The problem has been at the budget bill level where the line-item request was accidentally dropped or, in the case of last year, vetoed. The Navy League New Mexico Council's USS New Mexico Committee wishes to point out that the 2006 and 2008 New Mexico State Legislatures approved $100,000 and $200,000, respectively. These funds were used for Commissioning events and for raising public awareness.

An Incredible BB-40 Story – Seven Decades in the Making

This story is based on information provided by Major Josh Vance, a KC-130 pilot with the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, VA, and Dan Farnham, a Navy veteran living and working on Kwajalein, Republic of Marshall Islands.

The Marshall Islands extend over 600 miles of the South Pacific and include Kwajalein Atoll, one of the world's largest coral reefs enclosing a lagoon.  USS New Mexico (BB-40), having left Pearl Harbor on January 22, 1944, arrived off Kwajalein Atoll for the pre-invasion battering of the Japanese scheduled to start on January 31st.  This was part of Operation Flintlock, with the 4th Marine Division in the north at Roi-Namur and the 7th Army Infantry Division in the south at Kwajalein.  USS Idaho (BB-42) and USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) were also part of Operation Flintlock.  While shelling Ebeye and Kwajalein, New Mexico suffered her first casualty of the war.

BB-40 Kingfisher float plane

BB-40 Naval Aviation Division 1943-1944

Two Kingfisher spotter float planes from New Mexico were sent buzzing over embattled Kwajalein, their skilled pilots and radiomen relaying vital topographical information and target locations to the ship's gunners.  At 1522, an OS2N-1 Kingfisher piloted by LTjg Forney O. Fuqua, USNR, with Radioman Second Class Harrison D. Miller in the rear cockpit, was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire from Ebeye.  Fuqua radioed his ship:  "Cockpit full of gasoline fumes . . . hit very badly . . . am making emergency landing . . ." Mortally wounded, Fuqua instructed Miller to bail out.  Instead, Miller took over the controls and attempted to bring the crippled plane down to the surface of Kwajalein's giant lagoon.  With no prior flying experience, no instruments and only an emergency control stick, Miller succeeded in making a water landing.

Click Here to Read the Full Story

Letters to the Crew of the USS NEW MEXICO (SSN-779) from North Star Elementary 4th Graders

Class teachers are Ms. Hague and Ms. Reiff.

(Notice from webmaster: Get Kleenex before reading!)


Click Here to Read More

Recent Activities Surrounding USS New Mexico

By Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee


As the keynote speaker at the New Mexico Council’s July 21, 2012 fundraiser, Dr. Harrison Schmitt presenting a fascinating account of his time on the moon. He and Gene Cernan of Apollo 17 were the last two men to walk on the moon.
Photo by Rick Carver.



Commander, Fleet Cyber Command and Commander 10th Fleet Vice Adm. Michael Rogers boards USS New Mexico on July 26, 2012 during a visit to Navy Information Operations Detachment at SUBASE New London.
US Navy Photo



With a capacity crowd in attendance, CDR George Perez, Jr., commanding officer, USS New Mexico and 15 members of the crew attended the Yankees vs. Texas Rangers game at Yankee Stadium on August 15, 2012. They were recognized on the team's Jumbotron in the middle of the third and fifth innings.
Photo by the boat’s EMC (a Red Sox fan).



Master Chief Bill Lamb, former New Mexico EDMC (Bull Nuke), retired from the Navy on September 19, 2012. He had the honor of having several New Mexico shipmates at his retirement ceremony, including Capt. Rob Dain (former CO779) as his presiding officer to send him ashore.



Also on hand was CDR Stan Stewart (former XO779), who did a great job of reading Old Glory during Bill’s Passing the Flag ceremony, plus ETC Jeff Keep, MMC Dustin Clark and ETCS Dennis Mitchell.



Navy Leaguer Phelps White of Roswell, on right, and Phelps Anderson help celebrate New Mexico’s Centennial during a "Block Party" at the Roswell Museum & Art Center with a model of USS New Mexico. On October 4, 2012, they "launched" USS New Mexico and SS Roswell Victory ship at a Rotary Club meeting in celebration of the Navy's 237th birthday, sang Anchors Away, and RADM/Senator Bill Payne gave a stirring speech about the submarine and national defense.



The USS New Mexico with submarine posters and brochures were then put on display at the Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico, and soon the boat will be moored in a bank lobby, before "cruising" down the Pecos River to Carlsbad.



Leo Davis and Dick Brown at WSMR Headquarters with a model of battleship New Mexico, built by Brony Szymber in 1933-1935. Photo by FTCS Ray Watson, WSMR Naval Detachment



Leo Davis, combat submarine veteran, at podium describing WWII torpedo problems and solutions, during WSMR’s Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Navy birthday celebration on October 12, 2012.
Photo by Jose Salazar, WSMR



L to R, Millie Woods, president of Military Appreciation Weekend Center in Ruidoso; Dick Brown, Leo Davis and RDML Paul Arthur of Las Cruces.
Photo by Jose Salazar, WSMR



Traditional cake-cutting by the oldest sailor, Leo Davis, and the youngest sailor, Petty Officer Jenna Watts.
Photo by Jose Salazar, WSMR


USS New Mexico Sailor Receives IDC Of The Year Award

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

From on Sat 11/10/12

Chief Hospital Corpsman (SS) Retroyreo Conner

2012 Submarine IDC of the Year Award

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- An Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) aboard the Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) was recognized as the Submarine Independent Duty Corpsman of the Year for 2012 at a command awards ceremony in Groton.

Chief Hospital Corpsman (SS) Retroyreo Conner was named IDC of the year for 2012 earlier this year, but was later presented the award in October due to the submarine's underway schedule.

"It was a total surprise I can honestly say that," said Conner. "I have a great crew and I can say that I received this recognition based on their stellar performance and support of me."

The IDC of the year award is also presented to a surface and shore IDC annually. Last year, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SS) Aaron P. McKnight, who was assigned to USS Toledo (SSN 769), was the recipient of the award, which is presented annually to enlisted medical professionals who have significantly contributed to the combat readiness and overall health of Sailors aboard submarines.

"Chief Conner's dedication to the health and well-being of the New Mexico crew, his constant drive to help those around him achieve success, and his positive, infectious attitude makes him an inspiration to every Sailor onboard. He is, without a doubt, one of the finest Sailors I have ever had the privilege of serving with in my 26-year career," said Cmdr. George Perez, commanding officer, USS New Mexico.

Conner, who has served in the Navy for 14 years, said his tour aboard New Mexico marked his first IDC tour and first submarine. During his three-year tour Conner said one of his highlights was learning and qualifying to pilot the submarine.

"Serving as the IDC for the past three years has been career enhancing for me personally because you are truly an independent duty corpsman when the submarine is at sea," said Conner. "You are the sole provider for your crew and assisting with their medical needs allows me to keep sharp on my medical knowledge mainly because every medical case isn't always the same."

In addition to receiving IDC of the Year, Conner was also pinned chief petty officer in September.

"This award and my performance aboard USS New Mexico definitely contributed to [my] pinning on chief petty officer this year," said Conner.

In order to qualify as an independent duty corpsman, IDCs attend 18-months of training at both Naval Undersea Medical Institute and Naval Submarine School. To qualify as an IDC, Conner took a variety of training at NUMI consisting of clinical patient care, laboratory, pharmacy and general preventive medicine.

USS New Mexico Sailors Participate In Namesake Visit

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

From on Sat 10/20/12

USS New Mexico submariners, L to R, Supply Officer LTjg Justin Will; Engineering Officer LCDR Chris Blais; Chief of the Boat ETCM(SS) Steve Fritzler; and Fire Control Division Leader FTC(SS) Frank Saviano. In the hand of LCDR Blais is a piece of steel that broke off USS New Mexico (BB-40) when a Japanese suicide plane slammed into her superstructure.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (NNS) -- Four USS New Mexico (SSN 779) Sailors are participating in a three-day namesake state visit to New Mexico, Oct. 19-21.

Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Steven Fritzler, Lt. Cmdr. Chris Blais, Lt. j.g. Justin Will, and Chief Fire Control Technician (SS) Frank Saviano will meet with the Navy League, USS New Mexico Committee, submarine veterans, and attend the 237th Navy Birthday Ball in Albuquerque.

"The contingent of USS New Mexico Sailors are looking forward to this namesake state visit and appreciate the committee's continued support of our submarine," said Blais, USS New Mexico's engineer officer. "We look forward to further expanding that relationship during the lifetime of our submarine."

Blais, one of the featured speakers at the Navy Ball in Albuquerque, will provide an update on the Virginia-class attack submarine.

"This year our Navy celebrates its 237th birthday, and attending the Navy Ball in our namesake state is a wonderful way to reflect on our Navy's rich history," said Blais.

Submarine veterans, Navy League members and other supporters of the Navy will attend the ball in Albuquerque. Also included in that contingent are cadets from the largest organization of the sea cadets in the nation.

"Every student at the Bataan Military Academy is a sea cadet and about half of the student body is coming to our ball," said Dick Brown, chairman, USS New Mexico Committee, which is part of the Navy League New Mexico Council. "This is a great opportunity for these sea cadets, many who will probably serve in the military one day, to connect with their active duty counterparts."

Brown, who is coordinating the Sailors' three-day visit to his state reflected on meeting members of the New Mexico crew.

"It's the first visit the crew has been able to make this year," said Brown. "We are anxious to see them and meet their new chief of the boat, who we haven't met yet."

New Mexico was commissioned March 27, 2010, and was the sixth Virginia-class submarine to be commissioned.

The ship is named in recognition of the people of the "Land of Enchantment." The battleship New Mexico (BB 40), in commission from 1918 to 1946, and the only other ship named after the 47th state, earned six battle stars for World War II service, which included providing shore bombardment support for landings in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Guam, Tinian, Saipan, the Philippines, and Okinawa. BB 40 acted as the flagship for the Pacific Fleet during the 1920s. She was present at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.

Submariners discuss deep history behind state's vessels

October 17, 2012

by Dianne Stallings

Reposted from Ruidoso News

Leo Davis, 90, discusses torpedo problems during World War II with local author and rancher Bob Johnson during a reception at Bill Pippin Real Estate in Ruidoso. As the oldest sailor at the Navy birthday ceremony Friday at White Sands Missile Range, Davis cut a cake with the youngest sailor, one of 24 desert sailors stationed at the range. (Dianne Stallings/Ruidoso News)

New Mexico isn't near the ocean, but the state boasts three nuclear submarines as namesakes.

"Not many states can claim that," said Dick Brown, chairman of the USS New Mexico (SSN-779) Committee of the New Mexico Council of the Navy League of the United States. "The USS Albuquerque is based in San DiegoCalif., the USS Santa Fe at Pearl HarborHawaii, and the USS New Mexico at GrotonConnecticut."

Brown, a veteran of submarine duty during the Cold War, and Leo Davis, 90, who served on submarines conducting seven war patrols during World War II, were guests Friday at WhiteSandsMissileRange for a celebration of the Navy's 237th birthday. Thursday, they stopped at Bill Pippin Real Estate in Ruidoso with Millie Woods of Military Appreciation Week for a reception. They stayed overnight at the home of author and rancher Bob Johnson.

"It's tradition that any Navy group anywhere try to celebrate the annual birthday," Brown said of the founding of the Navy on Oct. 13, 1775. "We have a Naval detachment of about 24 at White Sands. They called themselves desert sailors. Leo and I were the honored guests speakers arranged by Millie. It was very special ceremony at the range headquarters. The youngest and the oldest traditionally cut the cake and Leo cut the cake at White Sands.

"I talked about the USS New Mexico and he spoke about how the torpedoes didn't work quite right at the beginning of WW2, but finally were fixed. I think the young sailors were interested."

Brown said as a former submarine sailor who served six years in the 1960s, he instigated the formation of the USS New Mexico (SSN-779) Committee and lobbied for a new nuclear sub to be named after New Mexico.

"The Navy began naming submarines after states and it had been six decades since New Mexicowas honored," he said. "I formed the committee within the New Mexico Council of the Navy League and began lobbying the Secretary of the Navy, who makes the decisions."

The first warship named after New Mexico was a battleship, the USS New Mexico BB-40. The new submarine is not only a great honor for the Land of Enchantment, but a salute to those who served aboard BB-40 and a tribute to all New Mexicans, who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces, Brown said. The ship's crest was designed by Emilee Sena, a high school senior inAlbuquerque at the time.

The new submarine is designed to conduct early strike warfare from close proximity, to deploy and retrieve special operation forces, to excel in destroying an adversary's operations at sea, to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and to fight the global war on terror, according to literature about the craft. She is armed with Mark 48 torpedoes and vertically launched Tomahawk cruise missiles.


After successful sea trials, the USS New Mexico was delivered to the Navy on December 29, 2009, four months ahead of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding contract schedule. Several months of shakedown operations were conducted in the Caribbean, proving that she was combat-ready. OnMarch 27, 2010, she was commissioned into the fleet during a special ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. The commissioning ceremony included 92-year-old BB-40 veteran Chief Warrant Officer George Smith, who helped set the first watch by passing the traditional long-glass to the officer of the watch, symbolically bridging the gap between the end of the last watch on the battleship and the first watch on the submarine.

On June 1, 2010, the USS New Mexico arrived at her first homeport, Submarine Base New London, the submarine capital of the world. Her vital statistics include that she is 377 feet long, represents 7,800 tons of displacement, her submerged speed is 25 knots or 28.7695 miles per hour, she's fueled for life and has a diving depth of more than 800 feet. The most technologically advanced submarine in the world, she carries the motto "Defendemos Nuestra Tierra," which means "We Defend Our Land." The USS New Mexico is the Navy's sixth Virginia-class, fast attack nuclear submarine.

Brown explained just securing the name didn't end the committee's involvement. Members arrange crew visits to the state, provides Sailor of the Quarter plaques to the boat, contribute to the crew's onboard living quarters and support other special activities that recognize sailors' accomplishments and raise awareness of the "awesome" submarine.

The committee, in association with the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, provides long-term support for the submarine. Through their combined efforts, the sub's interior decor has a distinctive New Mexico flair - Southwest-style bunk curtains, manufactured in Las Cruces, and the crew's mess is dubbed La Posta Abajo del Mar, or La Posta Beneath the Sea after a well-known La Posta de Mesilla restaurant, according to information provided by Brown.

October 15, 2012


CDR George Perez
Commanding Officer

NEW MEXICO Families, Friends and Supporters,

It has been five months since my last update. As always, time is flying by onboard as the ship and crew are ramping up for the ship's inaugural deployment in 2013. My last update finished with NEW MEXICO's return to homeport in mid-May following Submarine Command Course operations. After a reload of 15 exercise torpedoes, NEW MEXICO returned to sea for a head-to-head exercise with our sister ship, USS MISSOURI (SSN 780). While the competition was fierce and the environment challenging, when the dust settled NEW MEXICO came out on top. We finished the month of June with a Tiger Cruise, where 20 friends and family members were invited to embark for a three-day cruise. Everyone had a wonderful time and each of our distinguished guests was able to complete their qualifications and earn the title of Honorary Submariner. Following completion of the Tiger Cruise, the ship started the first of two Pre-Overseas Movement availability maintenance periods. The availability was demanding to say the least but the crew fought through the challenges which included some ninth-hour repairs that might have derailed a less motivated crew. We were able to hold the schedule though and get underway on time to preserve NEW MEXICO's first port visit to Annapolis, MD over Labor Day weekend. The crew thoroughly enjoyed the four days in Annapolis while showing off the ship to over 800 visitors made up of a combination of civilians and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy. The crew also built experience in extended operations at anchor, something submariners rarely get to do. Needless to say, the ship and crew performed flawlessly during the four days at anchor.

After weighing anchor in Annapolis, NEW MEXICO conducted a surface transit to Norfolk, VA, where we served as host platform for the COMSUBLANT Change of Command ceremony. On 7 September, VADM Richardson was properly relieved by VADM Connor with ADM Harvey, Commander, Fleet Forces Command, presiding. The crew did a fantastic job at preparing the ship, ensuring she looked her best for this prestigious event. We returned to sea the next day for some discretionary training and operated in and out of homeport over the rest of the month as we focused on honing our tactical skills after an extensive period in port over the previous two months. NEW MEXICO returned to Groton in early October and is now in the middle of our second Pre-Overseas Movement availability.

As always, the crew continues to perform well in all areas, most recently earning strong performances in Quality Assurance and 3-M assessments. Not to be outdone, the ship's galley, La Posta de Mesilla Abajo del Mar, has entered into the competition for the Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award, the most prestigious food service award in the Navy. We hope to learn the results in the very near future. Other highlights included the promotion of five Chief Petty Officers to Senior Chief - the most of any submarine on the Groton waterfront - as well as the selection of four new Chief Petty Officers: HMC Conner, LSC Simpson, ETC Mohney, and MMC Chayim. Each of these superb NEW MEXICO warriors was most deserving of their promotion to Chief Petty Officer. During this period we bid farewell to ETCM Murphy, Chief of the Boat, as he concluded an extremely rewarding three-year tour transitioning NEW MEXICO from a shipyard asset to a frontline submarine. His relief, ETCM Fritzler, has not missed a beat and is leading the charge as we prepare for deployment. Looking ahead, we have a busy fourth quarter as we wrap up deployment preparations and certifications. I have every confidence the crew will continue to perform at a level which will make each and every one of you proud. Again, we could not do what we do as well as we do without your support every day. For that, I thank you.

As I reflect on the last two years, I can only say that it has been an honor and a privilege to have led each and every member of this great crew. They continue to rise to any challenge and to answer any call on a daily basis. Each of them is truly a great American.

Warmest Regards,
CDR George Perez
Commanding Officer

USS NEW MEXICO SSN-779 and New Mexico Statehood

September 19, 2012

By Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee

Throughout the New Mexico Statehood Centennial year, the Navy League New Mexico Council's USS New Mexico Committee has been involving our undersea warriors in celebrating our state's 100th birthday. 

Early this summer, the committee purchased 140 New Mexico Centennial T-shirts from Zia Graphics and shipped them to the crew.  These golden yellow T-shirts, which become part of the crew's PT outfit, show the Palace of the Governors and the State Seal with the words "Land of Enchantment – NEW MEXICO – 1912-2012" – Celebrating 100 years" on the front and in red letters on the back "USS NEW MEXICO SSN 779".


Crew of our state namesake submarine in their Centennial T-shirts


In early January, in a video posted on YouTube, the crew broadcast the following birthday message:  "From the officers and crew of the most powerful warship in the Navy, Happy Birthday, New Mexico!" 


Twelve of USS NEW MEXICO's Chief Petty Officers help celebrate a century of statehood.
Front Bottom (Left to Right) MMC Caswell, ITSC Dora, CSC Sturtz, MMC Mullins
Back (Left to Right) MMCM Arroyo, MMCS Kuczirka, MMCS Vivian in front of ETC Fisher, STSC Hairston, COB (MMCM Fritzler), MMC Medert, ETC Edwards


The committee supplied the submarine with a special centennial license plate, SSN*779, with the sub's hull designation and number.  And true to the state having only rear license plates, the special plate is displayed at the aft end of the sail when in port.  The committee's first thought was to ask the Navy to permanently mount the plate on the rudder which breaks the surface about 20 feet aft of the superstructure but it would probably not hold up to long saltwater exposure when the submarine is submerged.


New Mexico Centennial license plate on the sail


The committee worked with the U.S. Postal Service to develop a special USS NEW MEXICO first day cover to help mark 100 years of statehood.  This "Submarine Mail" was cancelled in Santa Fe on January 6, 2012, has been to sea aboard the submarine, and has been signed by the commanding officer, CDR George Perez, certifying that it has been to test depth. 


Special cachet cover carried beneath the Atlantic aboard the submarine


These special collectibles are for sale; one can place an order by contacting the committee through this website.

USS NEW MEXICO Hosts Sub Force Change of Command

September 7, 2012

by Dick Brown, Chairman, USS New Mexico SSN-779 Committee

For the COMSUBFOR Change of Command ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk on September 7, 2012, USS NEW MEXICO (SSN-779) was moored at Pier 12 to serve as the host platform.  A special onboard stage was mounted just aft of her sail where the brow connected to her starboard side.  It displayed the Sub Force command crest against a blue background and patriotic bunting decorated the platform and brow.  The crowd of 800, including ship's company, was sheltered under a white tent on the pier.  According to COMSUBLANT Deputy PAO Kevin Copeland, "NEW MEXICO rocked!"

NEW MEXICO as the platform for COMSUBFOR Change of Command ceremony

Outgoing CSF VADM John Richardson (left),
incoming CSF VADM Mike Connor (right)

When VADM John Richardson relieved VADM Jay Donnelly in November 2010, the Los Angeles-class USS MONTPELIER (SSN-765) served as the host platform.  But VADM Richardson asked for a Virginia-class to serve as the platform when he turned over command of U.S. Naval Submarine Forces to VADM Mike Connor.  According to NEW MEXICO's Commanding Officer, CDR George Perez, NEW MEXICO was selected for a myriad of reasons.  One obvious reason was that NEW MEXICO was already in the neighborhood, having just spent the Labor Day weekend at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.  NEW MEXICO is one of nine Virginia-class submarines in service; six more are under construction.

ADM John Harvey, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, is piped aboard NEW MEXICO

Presiding over the ceremony was ADM John Harvey, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.  As he addressed the crowd, he referred to our 19,000-strong Submarine Force as a national treasure, vital to our Navy and our Nation.  Harvey awarded Richardson the Distinguished Service Medal for meritorious service.  A week later, ADM Harvey was relieved by ADM William Gortney.  Harvey is retiring after 39 years of naval service, including three years as Commander of Fleet Forces.

Richardson receives the Distinguished Service Medal; 
At left is VADM Tim Giardina, Deputy Commander, U.S. Strategic Command

VADM Connor at the podium

As top sub commander, Connor will also directly oversee all Atlantic
subs and will head up NATO's Allied Submarine Command.

VADM Richardson at the podium

During his tour of duty, Richardson integrated the first women officers into our submarine force and he decentralized authority in order to give sub skippers more flexibility.  Later this year Richardson will be promoted to 4-star and will relieve ADM Kirk Donald as the new Director of Naval Reactors.

From the home support team, the USS NEW MEXICO Committee, to VADM Connor, "Welcome aboard, sir!"


Images courtesy US Navy Photos

See USS New Mexico (SSN-779) and the U.S. Navy's Silent Strike Force

September 14, 2012

A feature look at the US Navy's Silent Strike Force and its capabilities. At the 17-minute mark there is good coverage of USS NEW MEXICO and at the 25-minute mark the USS SANTA FE is mentioned.

USS New Mexico Visits U.S. Naval Academy

September 4, 2012

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- The crew of Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) visited the U.S. Naval Academy, Aug. 31 - Sept. 3, to provide awareness of the undersea platform to future naval leaders.

"It's exciting to show some of the future leaders of our Navy and Marine Corps one of the most sophisticated and advanced warships in the world, which some of them may end up serving on," said Lt. Joel Holwitt, navigator, USS New Mexico.

Despite returning to his alma mater, Holwitt missed the opportunity to see the season opener of Academy football, when the Blue and Gold squared off against Notre Dame Sept. 1 in Dublin at the Emerald Isle Classic.

Holwitt is one of two U.S. Naval Academy graduates currently serving aboard the attack submarine. Graduating in 2003, Holwitt reflected on sharing the proud history and heritage of the Academy with the crew.

"The Naval Academy remains one of the best things that ever happened to me, and I am thrilled to be able to share some of that positive experience with my shipmates on board USS New Mexico," said Holwitt.

The last Groton-assigned boat to visit the U.S. Naval Academy was the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Alexandria (SSN 757). The attack submarine visited the capital city in Maryland Oct. 21-22 for the USNA's homecoming game.

USS New Mexico Sailors Recognized at New York Yankees Game

August 21, 2012

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

NEW YORK (NNS) -- Sixteen USS New Mexico (SSN 779) Sailors were recognized at a New York Yankees game in New York, Aug. 15.

With a capacity crowd in attendance, Cmdr. George Perez, Jr., commanding officer, USS New Mexico and 15 Sailors assigned to the Virginia-class submarine attended the Yankees vs. Texas Rangers game and were recognized by the Major League Baseball team on the team's Jumbotron in the middle of the third and fifth innings.

"Attending the game is an outstanding morale-building event for the New Mexico," said Perez. "The officers and crew of USS New Mexico are sincerely grateful for the opportunity to represent the submarine force at the game."

Perez also thanked local Connecticut businessman John Ranelli, chairman and CEO of Woolrich, Inc., and a former submariner for providing the opportunity to attend the Yankees game, as well as the New York Yankees.

USS New Mexico (SSN-779) Now Has New XO and COB

August 21, 2012

Following are bios for LCDR Michael Grubb, NEW MEXICO's new Executive Officer since March, and ETCM(SS) Steven Fritzler, NEW MEXICO's new Chief of the Boat as of August 17.

Executive Officer - LCDR Michael Grubb

USS NEW MEXICO Executive Officer, LCDR Michael Grubb

USS NEW MEXICO Executive Officer, LCDR Michael Grubb

The Executive Officer is Lieutenant Commander Michael Grubb. LCDR Grubb, a native of Southampton, New York, graduated from the University of Michigan in 2000 with a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and was commissioned through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).

Following nuclear power and submarine officer training, Lieutenant Commander Grubb reported aboard USS MIAMI (SSN 755) in October 2001 and served as the Chemistry and Radiological Controls Assistant and the Communications Officer.  During his tour MIAMI completed a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf, as well as a surge deployment to the North Atlantic Ocean.

Following his tour on MIAMI, in August 2004 Lieutenant Commander Grubb reported to the staff of Destroyer Squadron Twenty Two in Norfolk, Virginia.  Serving as the staff Submarine Operations Officer, his tour included a deployment to the Arabian Gulf embarked on USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.  In February 2006 Lieutenant Commander Grubb reported to the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he earned a Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies and completed Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase I.       

From September 2007 to October 2009 Lieutenant Commander Grubb served as the Engineering Officer aboard USS PENNSYLVANIA (SSBN 735)(BLUE).  During this time PENNSYLVANIA (BLUE) completed three strategic deterrent patrols and earned the 2008 COMSUBRON 17 Battle Efficiency Award.

In October 2009 Lieutenant Commander was assigned to the Naval Reactors Line Locker in Washington, DC, where he served as the Technical Assistant for S8G, S9G, and prototype reactor plants. 

Following completion of the Submarine Command Course Lieutenant Commander Grubb reported as Executive Officer aboard USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779) in March 2012.

Lieutenant Commander Grubb is single and resides in Mystic, CT.

Chief of the Boat - Steven B. Fritzler, ETCM(SS)

The Chief of the Boat is Steven B. Fritzler, ETCM(SS). Master Chief Fritzler was raised in Worland, Wyoming and enlisted in the Navy 12 July 1988.  He completed Recruit Training in Great Lakes and Radioman “A” School in Groton, Connecticut.

Master Chief Fritzler’s sea duty assignments include USS SAN JUAN (SSN 751), USS ANNAPOLIS (SSN 760) and USS NEW HAMPSHIRE (SSN 778).  His shore duty assignments included Naval Submarine School and on the staff of Commander Submarine Squadron 4.

Master Chief Fritzler first qualified in submarines in 1991 on board the USS SAN JUAN.  During this tour he was advanced to RM1 and completed two deployments to the North Atlantic.

Following his tour on USS SAN JUAN he reported to Naval Submarine School where he earned the Master Training Specialist certification and was advanced to Chief Petty Officer.

His follow-on assignment was the USS ANNAPOLIS, where he served as the Navigation Operations Department Enlisted Advisor, Communications Division Leading Petty Officer and advanced to Senior Chief Petty Officer. During this tour he completed one deployment to the Mediterranean. 

Upon completion of his tour on USS ANNAPOLIS he was assigned to the staff of Commander Submarine Squadron 4 where he served as the Communications Assistant from 2004 to 2007. 

He then reported to the commissioning crew as the 3M Coordinator on board the USS NEW HAMPSHIRE. During this tour the NEW HAMPSHIRE deployed to AFRICOM and was the first Virginia-Class to complete an overseas deployment.

Master Chief Fritzler returned to Commander Submarine Squadron 4 where he served as the Communications Assistant from 2010 to 2012.

Master Chief Fritzler reported to USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779) in August 2012 and is currently serving as the Chief of the Boat.

Master Chief Fritzler’s personnel awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (seven awards) and various unit and campaign awards.

New Mexico’s Chief of the Boat Wins Leadership Award

August 1, 2012

The winner of the coveted 2012 Naval Submarine League Master Chief Frank A. Lister Award for Exceptional Leadership and Motivation while serving as the Chief of the Boat has been awarded to Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Eric J. Murphy, COB, USS New Mexico (SSN 779).

Established in 2000, the Master Chief Frank A. Lister Award recognizes a COB who has displayed exceptional leadership and motivation of his crew while serving as the COB for a submarine.

According to a Submarine Group Two news announcement, Lister was selected twice to serve as the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force Master Chief, first in 1975 and then again in 1979. He was also selected three times, in 1975, 1978 and 1982, as a finalist for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.

Eric Murphy, who has served as the COB for three years, received the news during morning quarters on July 30th. He credits the crew of USS New Mexico. "This award is a testament of the hard work, dedication and commitment of the New Mexico sea warriors," said Murphy. "I am honored to serve with a crew of this caliber."

In mid-August, Eric will be transferring to his next assignment, Nuclear Power Training Unit in Charleston, SC, where he will no doubt continue to instill exceptional leadership and motivation in the next generation of submariners.

The Naval Submarine League is dedicated to educating the American public and promoting awareness of the importance of submarines to national security and defense. At the League’s 30th annual Symposium in October, ETCM(SS) Murphy will be recognized as the 2012 winner of the esteemed Master Chief Lister Award.


Click here to read the story and view the photographs


Battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40) Sailor from Idaho
Operating with Sister Battleship USS Idaho in the Gilbert Islands
and other Islands of the Pacific Theatre during World War II


Compiled by Dick Brown, Chairman of the Navy League New Mexico Council’s committee that supports New Mexico’s new namesake warship, the fast-attack nuclear submarine USS New Mexico (SSN-779).

Click here to read the story and view the photographs

Watch the USS NEW MEXICO Commissioning!

The USS NEW MEXICO was commissioned on 27 March 2010 at the Norfolk Naval Base and is now officially a member of the fleet of the United States Navy. The hugely successful commissioning events were a result of the tremendous financial and in-kind support provided by the citizens of New Mexico and many other states.

As the host state, New Mexico has a continuing obligation to support the crew of USS NEW MEXICO. The SSN 779 Committee, a part of the Navy League's New Mexico Council, has taken on a continuing effort to raise funds and organize in-kind support for the SSN 779 crew.

Some projects the SSN 779 Committee is organizing support for in 2010 are:
  • Decoration of the Crew's Mess
  • Replacement of Passageway Curtains with New Mexico style fabrics
  • Host the new Commanding Officer in New Mexico
The SSN 779 Committee welcomes your input through the Contact Menu. A Committee member will contact you to discuss and coordinate your input. Major contributors to the USS NEW MEXICO Commissioning were: