US Navy Celebrates 112th Submarine Birthday in Tokyo

US Navy Celebrates 112th Submarine Birthday in Tokyo

More than 300 Sailors, spouses and their guests gathered in celebration of the 112th Submarine Birthday Ball held at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo April 20.

Rear Adm. Phillip G. Sawyer, commander, Submarine Group (COMSUBGRU) 7, Commander Task Force (CTF) 54/74, hosted the event for Yokosuka’s submarine community, and submariner counterparts from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion, delivered remarks as guest speaker. Donald praised the submariners for their achievements and thanked them for all their support.

“I am proud to say that the United States and Kaijo Jieitai [JMSDF] submarine forces represented here tonight are writing the Submarine Forces’ legacy each day,” Donald said. “Together we support peace and stability in this region through joint classroom training, torpedo firing exercises, and anti-submarine warfare exercises.”

Donald emphasized the achievements and sacrifices of individuals and commands associated with the U.S. and JMSDF submarine forces.

COMSUBGRU 7 is comprised of submarines and submarine tenders forward deployed to the Western Pacific and Central command regions. U.S. submarines visit several ports in Japan.

Crew members from Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Columbus (SSN 762) attended the birthday ball, while enjoying a port visit as part of their deployment to the Western Pacific.

“We are honored to be able to share the U.S. Submarine birthday with our fellow Japanese submariners,” said Cmdr. Dave Youtt, commanding officer of Columbus. “More than half of our crew is attending the ball, and I’m sure they will all have fond memories of celebrating our submarine heritage together in Tokyo.”

Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class (SU) Brandon C. McKee, of USS Columbus, provided another highlight of the night when he accepted his submarine warfare insignia in front of his friends and other attendees.

“This Submarine Birthday Ball is my first ball since joining the Submarine Force, and it is really a memorable day for me,” said McKee. “I can’t think of a better day to become a qualified Submariner!”

Also known as “dolphins,” the submarine warfare pin is worn by both officers and enlisted who have passed proficiency tests for all systems aboard a submarine. As the most junior Sailor to earn the insignia, McKee assisted Donald and retired World War II submariner Charlie Brown in cutting the ceremonial birthday cake.

The oldest qualified submariner in attendance, Brown, 88, served 20 years as a cook in the Navy, including six war patrols in the Pacific Theater where he was responsible for the kitchen and feeding the men onboard his submarines.

The submarine ball commemorates the anniversary of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force. The Navy purchased John Philip Holland’s revolutionary submarine April 11,1900 and renamed it the USS Holland (SS-1), America’s first commissioned submarine. Since then, submariners have been patrolling the depths of oceans, taking the fight to enemies and providing maritime security around the world.

Navaltoday Staff, April 23, 2012; Image: navy