NEW LONDON, Conn. - On a beautiful sunny weekend at the waterfront in downtown New London, people came from all over to celebrate the city’s historic connection to the sea at 2019’s Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival.
The event opened on Thursday, September 12, with a ceremony held at City Pier featuring state and local leaders, guards and the West Side Middle School band performing the national anthem and various patriotic tunes.
“This is where you want to be when you celebrate our maritime heritage,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, who addressed the opening ceremony crowd.
Prominent among the events of the weekend was a visit by the Littoral Combat Ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11), which moored at Fort Trumbull’s pier 7 and offered guided tours of the warship for the duration of the weekend. Meanwhile at City Pier the Coast Guard tall ship Barque Eagle was open for tours along with a SUBASE Security Department Patrol Boat, river patrol boat from Coastal Riverine Squadron Eight, and the SUBASE Diver Support boat.
Also in downtown New London, tables were set up to represent the shore side of SUBASE. Sailors and civilians from the Submarine Force Museum, Port Operations, Naval Submarine Medical Research Lab, Fleet and Family Support Center, SUBASE Environmental, and Naval Submarine Support Facility all brought hands on displays for the public to interact with. “This was a great opportunity to tell the Navy story to our local community,” said Cmdr. Brad Boyd, director of the Submarine Force Museum and Historic Ship Nautilus.
However, no New England sailing celebration would be complete without a clam chowder cook-off! Teams from local restaurants, high school, the Coast Guard and the Navy submitted the best recipes. First place was awarded to the SUBASE Cross Hall Galley team, second and third we given to the US Coast Guard Academy team and the Coast Guard Barque Eagle team. USS Sioux City team receive the Honorable Mention.
Sailors from USS Sioux City spent Sunday morning volunteering with 5 year old Levi Chappelle and “Levi’s Clean Up Crew” who’s mission is to clean up around New London and prevent garbage from getting into the ocean. The volunteers picked up 160 pounds of trash along Bank and State Streets.
On Sunday afternoon, other USS Sioux City volunteers participated in “Reel Time With Kids”, a fishing activity that allowed local New London kids an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn basic fishing skills.
The weekend was a complete success and allowed the citizens of Southeastern Connecticut to intermingle and learn about their Navy and Coast Guard. “We’re hosting a Navy boat and the Sailors are back downtown. That brings back memories for everybody in New London when we were the “Sailor town,” concluded New London mayor, Michael Passero.