Thursday, January 12, 2006

 

Phoenix wants sail, rudder of namesake sub for memorial

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The Arizona Republic
By Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor
January 09, 2006


The USS Phoenix (SSN 702).

After nearly two decades sailing the seas, the USS Phoenix now sits at a naval shipyard in Washington state waiting to be dismantled.

A Phoenix commission has been working for nearly 10 years since the nuclear attack submarine was decommissioned to save the sail and rudder and build a monument in Phoenix for all military veterans.

"It's just sitting there rusting," said Marty Zipser, chairman of the city's USS Phoenix Commission and a retired Navy surgeon. "One of the neat things is that Phoenix would be the only one to set up the sail of their namesake in the city."

Commissioners hope to have the sub's parts in time for the city's 125th anniversary later this year.

The USS Phoenix Commission was created in 1990 to befriend crewmembers and preserve the history of all vessels that bear the city's name. Members expect this project will cost $389,000, which includes money for continued maintenance.

Commissioners said that Swift Trucking has agreed to transport the sail and rudder to Phoenix. The sail is the part of the submarine that sticks out of the water when the vessel is surfaced, and the rudder, at the rear, controls direction.

Pete Lumianski, vice chair of the USS Phoenix Commission and a Navy veteran, said that for several months, the group has been eyeing Steele Indian School Park at Third Street and Indian School Road as the ideal location.

A subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Board had its first discussion of the project last week, and asked city officials to get more information. The commission plans to meet with park officials on Tuesday at Steele park.

"We're gathering information and it's very early in the process," said Jim Burke, deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

While others, such as the Carl T. Hayden Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Arizona Historical Museum in Tempe expressed interest in the sub, the commission believes Phoenix is best. "It belongs in Phoenix, not on federal land or in another city," said Howard Goldman, a member of the commission and a submarine veteran. "It's named after the city. It's the most appropriate thing."

Lumianski said it would be a "tremendous asset to the city," and other panel members believe it would draw visitors.They favor Steele Park because it has a lake and is near the Arizona State Veterans Home and the medical center. "It's part of the city's history," Lumianski said. "This would be a wonderful place."

Anyone interested in the USS Phoenix Commission's efforts can join the 702 Society, the group's fund-raising arm. For information, call Steve Turner in the city's parks department at (602) 261-8606. For more information, visit http://702.clubexpress.com.


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