ANCHORAGE, Alaska -
Cmdr. Bill Dull, commanding officer of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Alaska (SSBN 732) Blue Crew, along with three members of his crew toured the state of Alaska for a namesake visit, Sept. 13 – 18, 2021.
Chief of the Boat Senior Chief Fire Control Technician Jeffrey Bortzfield, Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) First Class Petty Officer Matthew Golden, and Lt. Aaron Wescott accompanied Dull.
“Visiting the great state of Alaska was a tremendous experience for all of us,” said Dull. “The natural beauty of the landscape is unmatched anywhere I’ve been. And the friendly nature of the extremely patriotic Alaskans that we met made a return trip a bucket list item for all of us.”
A well-established tradition, namesake visits connect Sailors with the leadership and residents of local communities with the intention of promoting partnerships between citizens and America’s Navy.
Escorted by Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Gabbard, commanding officer of Navy Operational Support Center Anchorage, the Sailors met with Mayor Dave Bronson of Anchorage and Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, as well as Alaskans going about their day-to-day routines.
“To understand and support the Navy, the American people need to be able to reach out and touch the Navy,” explained Dull. “Connecting with the community was easy because Alaskans are so friendly. Whether it was at a scheduled event, walking down the street, at lunch, or even in an elevator, Alaskans expressed their support for our service to the country.”
The submarine Sailors also toured the Alaska Veterans Museum, attended a breakfast with the Armed Services YMCA, and visited with the leadership of United States Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.
The highlight of the visit for Dull was when the Sailors met with the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps of Service High School and Chugiak High School.
“It is very difficult to pick just one event because they were all wonderful,” said Dull. “But if I had to pick just one, it would be the visits to the NJROTC units. I was impressed by the insightful questions the students asked. They have bright futures and I hope to see many of them in the Navy and perhaps even on submarines in the future.”
Golden echoed Dull’s sentiment.
“I personally love to talk with students because they have passion and a whole world of opportunity is before them,” said Golden. “We got to have Q&A sessions, and I enjoyed being able to share the world of being on a submarine with them. Being on a submarine means to be a part of a tight-knit community that just doesn't compare to anything else. Those who choose this life form close and life-long bonds that I don't think you can get anywhere else.”
Commissioned in 1986, the USS Alaska is the fourth Navy ship to bear the legacy of the “Last Frontier State”. The ship is homeported at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, the home to all East Coast Ohio-class submarines.