The state of Vermont is playing host this week to a special delegation of U.S. Navy sailors serving aboard the submarine named for Vermont. The sailors are learning about their ship’s namesake state and visiting people who support them while they’re at sea on duty.
"It’s a beautiful state," said Mario Tedeschi, one of the sailors from the U.S.S. Vermont who is now touring Vermont as part of a celebration of the sub’s commissioning.
The U.S.S. Vermont is a 377-foot, $2 billion nuclear-powered submarine, which the military boasts is the most technologically advanced in the world.
The Virginia-class submarine’s commissioning was celebrated last year with its crew of 135, but the pandemic delayed a traditional visit by a small delegation of sailors to the state their sub was named for — until now.
The sub is currently undergoing a planned warranty checkup in Connecticut, which allowed some of the crew members to drive north for this week’s visits. The submariners are checking out landmarks and meeting with community and state leaders including the lieutenant governor and governor.
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"That’s our namesake," Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said of the U.S.S. Vermont Tuesday, a day before his planned meeting with the guests of honor. "Looking forward to visiting some of the crew members."
The trip is especially meaningful for Ian Blackmore, who’s a native of Danville, Vermont now stationed on the U.S.S. Vermont.
"It was just pure luck," Blackmore told NECN of how a Vermonter ended up stationed on the submarine. "All of us are really proud to serve on the Vermont."
Charles Phillips commands the U.S.S. Vermont and explained its capabilities include anti-sub warfare, intelligence gathering, and land-attack missiles.
"All of the crew members work exceptionally hard to represent Vermont," Phillips said. "We understand the great state we represent."
Gary Frymire is the president of the volunteer support group that has adopted the Vermont and its crew. The U.S.S. Vermont Support Group also worked to organize this week’s tours.
"We support the families quite a bit while the sailors are away at sea," Frymire said. "We’re going to make sure they know we care about them and their families — because obviously for them to do what they do, the families have to be able to hold down the home fires — so just build some relationships, build some connections, and have them go back with a better sense of what Vermonters are all about."
The sailors are in Vermont through Thursday— wrapping up their stay by meeting with cadets at the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University in Northfield.