not just proud today, we're honored. To have been chosen by the federal
government, by the Navy, to welcome the USS Texas and to have her come in
to our port and be commissioned in Galveston." With that statement,
Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas ushered in a new era in Texas naval
Pride was the underlying tone of the
day, which seems appropriate in the Lone Star State. Though not a
Texan, Capt. Litherland said, "We're so proud we have this bond with Texas
and particularly the city of Galveston."
Mayor Thomas and the
Galveston City Council welcomed Capt. John Litherland, USN,
commanding officer of the PCU Texas submarine* to the city. She extended
the welcome to the 10,000 visitors and guests expected to attend the
commissioning and week-long activities Sept 4-10. "As of today, 1300 room
nights have been reserved".
Litherland said, "I can't tell you how excited we are to be bringing Texas
to Galveston to be commissioned." He noted there have been four ships
named Texas, including a turn-of-the-century battleship that served in
Pres. Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet**
and Houston's own Battleship Texas BB-35 moored next to the San Jacinto
Battlegrounds. "She served gallantly in WWI and WWII and leaves us with a
great legacy today, including some of her crewmembers who will be at our
commissioning ceremony on Sept. 9."
"And now as we enter the 21st
century the new USS Texas, the submarine Texas, is primed to enter
the fleet." On the morning of September 4, 2006, Texas
will surface and meet the 129 year-old sailing ship
Elissa at the sea buoy. As Texas is escorted to the pier she will pass
Seawolf Park where the WWII warhorse
USS Cavalla SS-244
is moored as memorial. Cavalla curator John McMichael will salute Texas
with a signal cannon.
on the Texas began nearly seven years ago. The second ship in the new
Virginia class, her keel was laid in 2002 by
Newport News. First Lady Laura Bush christened Texas July 2004.
"Now on Sept. 9, the third and final step of that process will take
place," said Capt. Litherland, "as Texas joins the active ranks of the
fleet and again we have invited Mrs. Bush as our ship's sponsor to man the
ship and bring the ship to life."
Litherland thanked the commissioning committee led by Joe Coleman and
Marshall Cloyd of the Greater Houston
and the local chairman, Mr. Harry Brown, for the "tremendous program" that
has been prepared for the week of commissioning. Mr.
Brown pointed out how so many people have been "gracious and generous here
in the city" and Capt. Litherland said he appreciated the "great support
from the local community in Galveston and the greater Houston area."
"My crew is 150 of the finest young Americans you'll
ever meet, including 15 Texans, so Texans are very well represented. After
four years of building the ship and finally taking it out to sea, they are
very much looking forward to the opportunity to bring the ship here, to
Galveston and show her to the people of the namesake state, and especially
"Sailors join the navy to see the world, and for the
last four years all we've seen is the inside of a shipyard."
Capt. Litherland was born in
Landestuhl, Germany, the son of an Army Artillery officer. He
considers Las Vegas, New Mexico where he spent four years as a high school
student and football player his home town. His submarine career began on
the USS Ohio, where he earned his gold dolphins. He was the navigator on
the Louisville and XO on the Pintado before achieving command of the
Topeka as a resolute, confident, and capable officer.
Joining Capt. Litherland aboard the Texas will be his
Chief of the Boat, Mark Brooks, whom Capt. Litherland described as "not
quite a Texan, he came from the other side of Texas, Texarkana. But my XO
is a Texan. Al Onley, from Greenville." (Coincidentally, Brooks was the
COB of the last submarine built in the Newport News shipyards before
the Texas, the USS Cheyenne).
When asked which he considered a bigger challenge to
Texas, a diesel sub with AIP or an advanced nuclear sub, Capt. Litherland
said, "With the demise of the Soviet submarine force pretty much complete
now, there are not too many threats directly to our submarines. We have
the ability to go almost anywhere in the world undetected, we have that
access that makes us such a potent weapon. When you're in close to the
shoreline, as our 21st century
missions promise to be, you're closer to folks who... can ruin your day.
We think the Virginia class submarine, which Texas is the second, is
well-equipped for the challenges...particularly working in-shore. We have
systems and sensors that make her able to get in there safely, execute a
mission undetected, and leave.
This writer asked him to share his
personal thoughts as the commanding officer of a nuclear submarine on his
role in America's defense. "We in the submarine force don't talk a lot
about it," he answered. "We're known as the Silent Service, for good
reason. But we have been and see ourselves on the cutting edge, the
forefront of the nation's defense."
||Joe Coleman, Pres. Navy League
(Houston) discusses upcoming Commissioning activities with City
Council member Patricia Bolton-Legg
||Subsim.com Editor Neal Stevens gets
his picture taken with Texas Capt. John Litherland
||Capt. Litherland talks shop with Lt.
Michael Street and Cdr. Jeffery Wood.
||Councilwoman Jackie Cole speaks with
Capt. Litherland and reporter Jim Guidry (Guidry