Sunday, July 23, 2006

Congratulations to the Crew of the USS Memphis (SSN-691)

For only the second time in this award's 100-year history, a submarine crew has won a prestigious, Atlantic Fleet award. USS Memphis won the 2005 Battenburg Cup Award in June, it was recently announced. USS Miami (SSN 755), then attached to Submarine Squadron 4, won the award in 1999. (more, Notes 1, 2 & 3 below)

The massive, silver-plated cup is engraved: To the enlisted men of the North Atlantic Fleet from their British cousins of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. In grateful remembrance of the many kindnesses, tokens of good fellowship and wonderful entertainments that were given to them in cordial friendship by their comrades across the sea. The three-foot high cup displays the crossed ensigns of the US Navy and Royal Navy.

The oldest trophy in continuous, American naval history is the Battenberg Cup [ NAVSURF LANT ] N82/, originally a rowing competition award between enlisted men of the US and Royal navies. In May 1906, Rear Admiral Prince Louis Battenberg, R.N, commander of England's second Cruiser Division, donated the massive trophy to the U.S. Navy. Although his name appears nowhere on the trophy, it almost immediately became known as the Battenberg Cup. [During World War I the British Admiral renounced his German title and anglicized his name to Mountbatten].

The cup survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 aboard the sunk USS West Virginia, the last ship to have won the cup by that time. The battlewagon retained custody of the Battenburg Cup until decommissioning in 1947, after which the cup was displayed in the Navy Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Post-war competition resumed in 1978 under more stringent, less athletic, administrative and command criteria. (more, Note 4)

The cup is now only presented to the Battle Efficiency "E" winner selected as best all-around ship of the Fleet based on crew achievements. These include Atlantic Fleet Sportsmanship Award, TYCOM Sailor of the Year Award, Golden Anchor Award, Captain Edward F. Ney Award, command excellence awards, and performance considerations such as operations, arduous commitments and other performance factors. Memphis alone operated in every ocean last year, said her CO, Cmdr. Bill Merz . (more, Note 5).

Notes (Submarines are always silent and strange):
1) - SSN-755 Miami's award is not listed here, however, and the Memphis's award is listed there for 2006 although awarded for 2005.

2) - A three-foot bronze Iron Man trophy #1 (athlete standing on the World and raising a laurel crown) was awarded by COMSERVPAC on a system of points figured on the basis of participation and standings of athletic teams of ships of the Fleet.

3) - In 1950, USS Sea Fox (SS 402) won the Iron Man #1 and technically remains its defending champion, as the trophy was withdrawn from competition with the outbreak of the Korean conflict. For the time being, the Number One Iron Man is at COMSERVPAC headquarters at Pearl.

4) - USS Holland (AS-32) won the trophy in 1978 and, as reported in Eric Ryle's interview with Capt. Lawrence S. Wigley, author of the sub thriller Mission Complete, it was presented by Fleet Admiral Mount Batten to Wigley at the time.

5) - Think Memphis (SSN-691) is a new boat? She was launched over 30 years ago (more than 7 years before USS Honolulu SSN 718, yet Honolulu will be deactivated and her forward compartment will replace that of USS San Francisco (SSN-711), which was badly damaged when she struck an underwater seamount in 2005. Here is why.

6) - Here is the Toledo (SSN-769). She's scheduled for 10 months in the Newport News drydock. Sounds to some like a new hull section for whatever purpose we might learn in a year or so.


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