The leading officer of the nuclear submarine USS Columbia (SSN-771), Commander Patrick Friedman, and his senior enlisted crewman, Master Chief Machinist’s Mate Jack Fetterly, visited one of the sub’s their namesake cities last week.
The two visited community schools, telling students and teachers about the Navy and the submarine named after their city, and also attended a dinner-dance at the Columbia American Legion Hall on March 13.
The ship’s commander thanked the gathered citizens – some 20 of whom were in Groton, Conn., nearly 20 years ago to see the vessel launched – for their strong support of the ship and its crew. Both the Commander and Master Chief mingled with the crowd, sharing thoughts on the evening and the service of the submarine and its crew.
Following dinner, the two spoke briefly, presenting a plaque and photo to Columbia American Legion Post 581 Commander Jim Vogt to commemorate the visit there. In turn, Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson presented shirts with the city’s name and logo to the two Navy men.
Several attendees received coveted “Commanders Coins” from the Commanding Officer as thanks for their contributions to the evening. The silver-dollar-sized enameled bronze coin features the ship’s logo and motto – “Preserving Freedom on the Seas.”
The USS Columbia is a fast attack nuclear submarine, and is the 60th submarine of the Los Angeles class. It was launched Sept. 24, 1994. It was the last submarine launched by sliding down a wooden ramp stern-first into the water, and is thus unofficially dubbed “the last slider.”
It is 361 feet, 11 inches long, has a width of 32 feet, 10 inches, and displaces some 6,900 tons submerged – where nuclear submarines spend most of their time when at sea.
She is manned by 13 officers and 116 enlisted personnel. Her weapons include four 21-inch torpedo tubes and 12 vertical launch missile tubes for a surface attack capability.
The USS Columbia honors namesake cities in Illinois, Missouri and South Carolina, is home ported in Pearl Harbor, and is assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.