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From the Norwich Bulletin: Submarine force, the ‘sword and shield’ of the sea, celebrates 117th birthday

GROTON — Having served on five submarines in his 20-year career, Navy veteran Chuck Norris, of Norwich, has a fierce loyalty to the “silent service,” and made sure he was on hand to celebrate its 117th birthday on Tuesday.

“It’s a very close, tight-knit community,” Norris said when describing the conditions on board a Navy submarine “While you’re asleep, they watch out for you.”

Norris and his wife Mary were among dozens of veterans, active-duty sailors and state and local dignitaries who came to the Submarine Force Museum to mark the anniversary of the force’s founding.

“April 11 marks the key anniversary in our identity and our heritage as the United States submarine force,” Nautilus officer in charge Lt. Cmdr. Reginald Preston said.

One hundred and seventeen years ago on April 11, 1900, the Navy purchased Holland VI, a 53-foot long, 10 and a quarter-foot diameter experimental submarine from John P. Holland and the Holland Torpedo Boat Company. It would become the nation’s first commissioned submarine, USS Holland, and the forerunner of the modern U.S. submarine force.

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