The day has finally arrived.
This morning, the Captain and remaining crew will gather with their families and friends and say farewell to the submarine that has been their home and our defender for over 35 years. The USS Pittsburgh will officially begin her inactivation period which will lead to the last act of any United States Navy vessel. She will be decommissioned and struck from the records. The name USS Pittsburgh will once again return to the books in the sure hope that she will grace another ship that will serve the nation.
On stage today will be the last Commanding Officer, Commander Jason Deichler along with Rear Admiral Douglas Perry who served on the boat as a young officer and now serves as the Commander for Submarine Group Nine.
The boat’s sponsor, Carol Sawyer will also be on stage to say goodbye to one of the great loves of her life. This amazing woman has been the heart and soul of the USS Pittsburgh from the days that the boat had not even begun to write its amazing story. She has attended every change of command and been a steadfast supporter. In my many years, I have never known a ship’s sponsor who has been more faithful to the ship she helped to bring to life. I can only imagine the sadness in her heart as she joins all of us in saying farewell.
Last night she presented a gift to the Pittsburgh Council of the United States Navy League. The card inside said:
Bob, The Pittsburgh Navy League has been the most remarkable support for “our” boat- please tell everyone how grateful I am to have shared such special memories for so many years!
Your Sponsor, Carol
The stage is not very large which is unfortunate. There are so many people who really deserve to be on it to help in the final part of this journey. Many are no longer with us. They have passed on to the great reward. They will be there in spirit. Many could not attend because of life circumstances. The event will be live streamed so anyone with access to a computer can watch as it happens. A fairly large amount of Pittsburgh people and former shipmates will be seated in the auditorium. The Sub Vets from the Requin USSVI base have faithfully served the crew for many years. Our Council’s Relief Crew and its many leaders that provided support to the crews over the years with donations to the scholarship funds and welfare and recreation parties. Finally, the many members of the Navy League including our corporate and individual members who have been faithful in their support.
The Captain and I have developed a very close friendship in the short time we have known each other. I have tried to be a good servant for the boat but feel a special connection to him. We share a submarine heritage but also have the distinction of being the last leaders of our organizations. He asked me if I would join him on stage today and represent the many people who have sent their tributes. It is an honor to be there. It is actually humbling. I will try and do the best I can to represent the many people who are a part of this amazing family.
The name USS Pittsburgh will rise again once more. It has graced ships that served this nation during times of war and peace. It represents the Heart of Steel and I hope I live long enough to see the name used once more.