NM officials plan trip to Pearl Harbor for USS Santa Fe Homecoming

SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and two city councilors plan to travel to Hawaii in late January to greet the crew of a nuclear-powered attack submarine named after the city of the holy faith.

“We are really fortunate to have a ship named after our city,” Coss said in an interview this week about the city officials’ trek to Pearl Harbor for the submarine’s homecoming.

Coss and the two councilors, Chris Calvert and Peter Ives, all said they are paying their own way to Hawaii. City spokeswoman Jodi McGinnis Porter also will be traveling to Hawaii for the USS Santa Fe’s homecoming. She, too, is paying her own way, she said, and she is using vacation time for the trip.

The city of Santa Fe and the crew of the USS Santa Fe have had an ongoing relationship since 1994, when the submarine was commissioned, said Rick Carver, president of the local USS Santa Fe Committee.

Last October, Coss traveled to San Diego to present the submarine’s commanding officer with a city flag from the local council chambers.

“Part of the reason the mayor’s going to go to Pearl Harbor for the homecoming is he’s going to present the commanding officer with a new city flag,” Carver said, “and he’s going to get back the old one with a certificate saying that it’s been to the top of Mount Fuji.”

Carver said the Los Angeles class submarine, armed with Mark 48 torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles, deployed in July. “Where they go exactly, we don’t get to know that. But we do get to know where their port calls are after the fact,” he said. “They’re due back for homecoming, and in the Navy, homecoming is a big deal — a very big deal.”

For security reasons, Carver said, he could only say the homecoming is in late January.

“Everything these submarines do is so secret,” Carver said. “The commanding officer’s name is Timothy Poe. When he’s asked where they go when they’re on deployment, he answers by saying, ‘Look at the headlines.’ That’s that.”

Coss said he never served in the military but makes a point of honoring active military members and veterans.

“Mayor Coss has been terrific,” said Carver, who served in the Navy for seven years. “I can’t say enough about his help.”

The USS Santa Fe Committee, which became part of the Navy League of the United States in January, sponsored two crew visits to Santa Fe this year, including one in which Poe and 10 sailors visited one of the local pueblos and volunteered at Kitchen Angels. Carver said Kitchen Angels received a $1,000 check from crew this week.

“I’m committed and everybody in our committee is committed to doing whatever we can to maintain a relationship between the city and the USS Santa Fe,” he said. “We’re proud of this boat.”

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