USS Idaho should be a gem
LEWISTON, Idaho (Tribune News Service) - The skipper of the most advanced fast-attack nuclear submarine in the U.S. Navy said “lots of spuds” will be served to the crew of the USS Idaho when it goes into service in 2023.
Cmdr. Nicholas Meyers and four other crew members were in Lewiston on Thursday night to talk about the new vessel and soak up the Gem State’s culture. For the first time in more than 100 years, the U.S. Navy is naming a vessel after Idaho, and it will be “fully loaded,” Meyers said at a reception at the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel, which drew about 50 people.
“She’ll be the very best when she’s out there,” he said.
The USS Idaho, which is still under construction in Connecticut, is a cutting-edge, high-stealth warship capable of intelligence gathering, reconnaissance, surveillance, land attacks, mine detection and sea control. The crew is made up of the “finest of the finest,” Meyers said, and several were able to explore Idaho’s rich history and connection with the Navy this week. The group visited Farragut State Park, the Acoustic Research Detachment in Bayview and the Idaho National Laboratory.
After meeting with the Nez Perce Tribe and attending the Lewiston reception, they headed to Moscow, where they will speak at the University of Idaho today. They also plan to participate in the UI homecoming parade Saturday.
“Everywhere we go, we are welcomed with the utmost hospitality,” Meyers told the Lewiston Tribune. “We are so grateful to have the best name in the fleet.”
The vessel will carry the flavor of Idaho wherever it goes, the commander said. Its three watch teams have been dubbed the Vandals, Bengals and Broncos. The cuisine will include baked potatoes, along with steak and lobster on special occasions.
“We have the best food in the Navy on submarines.”
The reception was hosted by the USS Idaho Commissioning Foundation. Valley veterans turned out for the event, along with members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. They applauded the ship’s crew and thanked them for making the trip to Idaho.
Doug Welch, chairman of the Lewis-Clark Valley Veterans Council, said the new vessel is a terrific tribute to the state.
“It’s nice to get Idaho some recognition in the fleet after 100 years,” Welch said, “and it’s cool the crew got to come here. It would be really interesting if they could ever bring the submarine here someday, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Chuck Whitman, a retired Navy commander and Asotin County commissioner, said the technology just keeps getting better and better. It’s an honor to be among the first crew on a vessel and something the Lewiston visitors will never forget during their careers.
Veteran David Irish, a Lewis-Clark State College instructor, previously served with crew member Chief Petty Officer Mark Phelps on the USS North Dakota. Seeing him again in Lewiston was one of the highlights of the evening, he said.
“This is an awesome continuation of what Idaho has done for the Navy,” Irish said after the presentation. “Idaho is where Navy nuclear power was born.”
According to event organizers, four previous ships were named USS Idaho. Prior to the high-tech submarine, Battleship 42 was the most recent, and it was commissioned in 1919.
Hayden resident Henry Netzer, who serves as the north region chairman on the USS Idaho Commissioning Committee, said the new warship will be christened a year from now and ready for action the following summer. The cost to build the submarine was $2.3 billion, Netzer said, and the warship will be 377 feet long and 35 feet in diameter.
This visit from the skipper and crew is a celebration of Idaho’s long-standing relationship with the Navy, Netzer said. More information on the USS Idaho and the state’s military history can be found online at ssn799.org.
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