City might seek sub as downtown attraction

When Mayor Cary Bozeman visited the nuclear submarine USS Bremerton at Subase Bangor recently, he got a quick case of claustrophobia.

It hasn’t stopped him from spearheading an effort to get a submarine for the city’s Maritime Park which should become a reality in two to three years west and south of the Bremerton Transportation Terminal.

Bozeman said though the city first envisioned just a portion of a submarine, they now have assurances from the office of Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair), attempts will be made to obtain an entire submarine.

“We want the Maritime Park to become a tourist attraction with a nautical and Navy theme,” Bozeman said. “We have a Navy history in this city and we are proud of it. From what I understand, we have a real good chance of getting a submarine.”

Bozeman said he envisions tourists coming to Bremerton on the ferries eating at local restaurants, staying at the hotel/conference center proposed for the waterfront and then visiting a relocated Bremerton Naval Museum — and a submarine at Maritime Park.

Bozeman said a submarine on land atop supports instead in the water would be less expensive and easier to maintain.

Though Rep. Dicks would have a powerful influence on the Navy in getting a submarine for his hometown, Shipyard Public Affairs Officers Mary Anne Mascianica said a long procedure must be followed.

“It’s a detailed process,” she said of any city wanting a decommissioned Navy vessel. “They (the city or group) must have a site, a plan and financial resources to make this viable. It is not a quick process. It is a lengthy process.”

She said Vallejo, Calif. has put in an application for the ex-submarine USS Drum at PSNS and the Ohio city of Cincinnati is seeking its namesake submarine.

Mascianica said some submarines at PSNS have virtually nothing left inside and would make poor tourist attractions.

“There is very little to nothing left to these subs,” she said. “Money would be needed to maintain hull integrity. It would depend on what you (a city) needed or wanted in a museum. A lot of homework has to be done.”

Bremerton Public Works Director Gene Sampley was in Washington, D.C. on March 12 and visited with Dr. Roderick Speer who is Materials Donation Manager for Naval Sea Systems Command.

“He told me the process,” Sampley said.

Currently 15 submarines in various stages of decommissioning and recycling are inside PSNS. Getting one to the planned Maritime Park would mean negligible towing fees compared to Vallejo or Cincinnati.

“Obviously, the commuting distance is very short,” Mascianica said for any sub making the several hundred yard journey to the Maritime Park.

The mayor’s point man for downtown Bremerton redevelopment, attorney Gary Sexton, said Bremerton has just begun to explore the scope and range of the military aspect to Maritime Park.

He said the park would start near First Street and the PSNS gate and be about 100 feet wide and then widen to well more than 200 feet wide nearer the waterfront.

“It’s potentially a spectacular piece of parkland,” Sexton said.

Bozeman is still buzzing about his Feb. 28 visit to the USS Bremerton (SSN-698) at Bangor.

That boat is the 10th of the Navy’s Los Angeles-class of submarines. Bozeman said the commanding officer told him there are no immediate plans to retire the boat commissioned March 28, 1981.

“Our first choice would be the Bremerton of course,” Bozeman said. “And after that we would want one that isn’t gutted and still has something in it. Every kid wants to visit a submarine, and face it, we all have a bit of little kid in us.”

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