The crew of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720) held an inactivation ceremony to celebrate the boat’s 35 years of service at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Washington, Jan. 17.
The occasion marked the crew’s final public event before the submarine is officially decommissioned in the controlled industrial area at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.
Crew members, Navy League members and supporters, past and present, were on hand to bid farewell to the boat. Dr. Carol H. Sawyer, a professor of organizational leadership at University of La Verne, California, spoke fondly of what it has meant to her to have been the Pittsburgh’s sponsor and a part of the Pittsburgh family since the ship’s commissioning, Dec. 8, 1984.
“It means that every day for 35 years, I have embodied the gratitude of the American people. In my very person, in who I am, I have literally lived our gratitude for the commitment, the service, the professionalism, the sacrifice and the patriotism that I have witnessed,” said Sawyer. “And not just gratitude for those who have sailed with USS Pittsburgh, but also gratitude for those who supported her at home, and in countless organizations and locations around the world.”
Rear Adm. Douglas Perry, Commander, Submarine Group 9, and a prior crew member aboard Pittsburgh, served as the ceremony’s guest speaker.
“Pittsburgh Sailors; they are tough. They’re resourceful. They know how to have a good time, said Perry. “We are all better Sailors for having been a part of the Pittsburgh’s history.”
Inactivation is the process in which a submarine will be de-fueled, with the hull retained in safe storage until decommissioning, when the boat is then taken out of active service and the crew is reassigned to another ship or command.
“Pittsburgh was and, as long as she has former crew members in the fleet, is a major part of the legacy that has built this truly asymmetric advantage that the CNO speaks of in the undersea domain,” said Perry. “As you and your crew go about your work putting USS Pittsburgh to rest, take that legacy forward. Take that spirit and that heart of steel out into the rest of the submarine force and our Navy.”
The ceremony concluded with the lowering of the national ensign, a symbolic securing of the watch and remarks from the 14th and current USS Pittsburgh Commanding Officer Jason Deichler, who himself is a native of Pittsburgh.
“The essential inside of the submarine is gone. But what remains are the stories, the memories and moments… that’s where the Pittsburgh will eternally reside.” said Deichler. “I consider myself truly blessed to close the final chapter and draft those final memories on board the Pittsburgh.”
Pittsburgh completed their last deployment Feb. 25, 2019. Then the boat and her crew made their first arctic transit for a final homeport change from Groton, Connecticut, to Bremerton, arriving May 28, 2019 to commence the inactivation and decommissioning process.
Pittsburgh is the fourth U.S. Navy vessel to be named for the city of Pittsburgh. The boat’s mission was to seek out and destroy enemy ships and submarines, and to protect U.S. national interests. At 360-feet-long and 6,900 tons, Pittsburgh could support armament of sophisticated Mark 48 torpedoes and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.