GROTON, Conn. – Sailors from Naval Submarine Support Facility’s (NSSF) Weapons Department onboard Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) conducted gun salutes in honor of National Maritime Day, May 22, and Memorial Day, May 25.
A seven-gun salute was performed on National Maritime Day near Fort Trumbull in downtown New London, Connecticut, to recognize the Nation’s maritime past and current industry, and a 21-gun salute was held on Memorial Day at the SUBASE weapons compound to honor the Nation’s fallen service members.
National Maritime Day dates back to 1933, and Fort Trumbull was the former site of the Merchant Marine Officers Training School from 1939-1946.
During World War II more than 250,000 members of the U.S. Merchant Marine served their country, with more than 6,700 giving their lives, hundreds being detained as prisoners of war, and more than 800 U.S. merchant ships being sunk or damaged.
The United States Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Foundation, American Merchant Marine Veterans Association, Naval Armed Guards Association, the City of New London and the New London Historical Society conducted the National Maritime Day recognition event.
The Mobile Saluting Battery and NSSF Sailors signaled the start of the ceremony by firing seven volleys.
“This tradition has been conducted here since the Navy departed the fort about 32 years ago,” said Chief Torepedoman’s Mate Dale Horkey, in charge of the mobile battery. “The event promotes the maritime history of the State and community and the potential for the future.”
The National Maritime Day gun salute was a prelude to the larger salute on Memorial Day and for Horkey participation has great significance.
“The gun salute has a long-standing tradition in the Navy as a means of rendering honors and respect to days of National observance and to high-ranking military and civilian officials,” said Horkey.
To ready for both salutes, the NSSF team completed refurbishments to the mobile saluting battery to ensure it was ready for the time-honored ceremonies.
“Our saluting battery consists of two 40mm cannons and mounts affixed to standard commercial trailers,” said Horkey. “The team completed an outstanding refurbishment – from gun mount painting and preservation, to a new trailer, deck painting, application of non-skid surfaces, and new decorative bunting.”
During both commemoration ceremonies, the NSSF team ensured virus mitigation measures were in place in addition to their full regime of safety protocols.
It’s all worth it to help the community and Navy Team New London enjoy Navy tradition, noted Horkey.
“As Sailors, we look forward to any opportunity to use our heritage and training as an avenue to build on the relationships between the base and our surrounding community,” said Horkey.