Navy takes PT mayor, community leaders for submarine ride

PORT TOWNSEND — For many years, no trip to Disneyland was complete without riding in a miniature submarine to see the mermaids, divers and giant clams.

Closer to home, visitors can catch a glimpse of colorful ocean life at the Pacific Undersea Gardens in the harbor at Victoria.

Now, a group of Jefferson County residents can say that their summer adventures included a real submarine ride.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Larry Wiener said.

Wiener, who lives in Port Ludlow, was one of five civic leaders from East Jefferson County invited aboard the USS Nevada, a nuclear Trident ballistic missile submarine, for the last leg of a cruise through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Hood Canal and the Bangor Sub Base.

In the wake of the Navy’s controversial announcement that converted and modified sister submarines to the Nevada will dock at Naval Magazine Indian Island, across the bay from Port Townsend, for maintenance and to load and unload non-nuclear Tomahawk missiles and torpedoes, the trip gave the guests a view of the vessels from a different angle — the inside.

“It was fascinating,” said Port Townsend Mayor Mark Welch.

“It’s like living inside this huge machine.”

It is unusual for private citizens to be invited aboard a nuclear submarine — that privilege is usually reserved for family members, according to Chris Haley, public affairs officer for Indian Island.

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