Ben’s big submarine adventure
So I was excited just to get aboard the USS Salt Lake City; I can barely imagine what it was like for the 125 guys (+/-) who just cruised this technological marvel from San Diego, CA, to Portsmouth, NH, via the North Pole. Or what it was like for my dear brother-in-law, Richard Itkin, to be out there with the Russians back in the 80’s when he was the vessel’s first captain. You see my sub visit was a family event, and a sentimental one at that. Rich was on that conning tower above with his teenage son and daughter when the boat launched in 1982. What a kick then to show the controls to his 3 grandsons as the boat heads into retirement in 2006! The youngest, by the way (and bigger picture here ), is in the middle Diving Officer’s seat while the twins are in the Planesman’s (port) and Helmsman’s seats. Unfortunately, in terms of a technology tour, most all of the sub’s systems were shut down as it’s being prepared for reactor extraction. But suffice it to say that there are lots of places on the boat where the instrumentation is as dense as in this photo. Most of the gear is quite sub specific, but the Garmin plotter wasn’t the only COTS surprise. For instance, there was also Furuno sonar gear aboard, used during the last trip to look up at the ice, and judge its thickness. The USS Salt Lake City was able to find a thin spot and break through for a brief look at the North Pole. (Which makes Rich jealous; I would be too).
If you can get this to Rich Itkin, say “hi” from an old shipmate. He was XO of the Sam Rayburn (SSBN 635) back in ’74 to ’76 when I was a fresh caught Ensign serving under him. One of the best officers I ever encountered. Saw him again around ’80 or ’81 while he was in PCO school in Norfolk. Give him my best. Does he still have that old Porsche?
Rich was a great XO and it was a privilege to be his COB Dee leFevre