Clay Westfall Books

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                                      USS Salt Lake City (SSN-716)

 

This was my first boat, the USS Salt Lake City (SSN-716).  At the time I was on it in 1983, it was the newest Nuclear Fast Attack Submarine in the world.  I earned my Dolphins on this boat, which was no easy task.  The Salt Lake City conducted an inactivation ceremony in San Diego on 26 October 2005, then departed for a transit under the polar ice. On 15 January 2006 she was decommissioned at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Over a year later, the hulk was taken under tow, arriving on 8 May 2007 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where she will be recycled and scrapped.

                                                                     USS Baton Rouge (SSN-689)

 

The USS Baton Rouge (SSN-689) was my second boat. The Salt Lake City was moving to San Diego after it was commissioned, and I had no desire to go to California, so I put in for a split tour. All I had to do was find somebody on the Baton Rough who wanted to go to California, and all was well. I spent the next two years there, until my contract expired in 1987.

On 11 February 1992, while on patrol near Severomorsk, Baton Rouge collided with the Russian Sierra-class attack submarine K-276 Kostroma.

On 13 January 1995, she became the first Los Angeles-class submarine to be decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register, after only 17½ years in commission. Baton Rouge entered the Nuclear Powered Ship-Submarine Recycling Program and ceased to exist on 30 September 1997.

 

                                                          USS Norfolf (SSN-714)

 

The USS Norfolk (SSN-714) was my third boat.  After getting out of the Navy in 1987, I took a short time out and contemplated life as a civilian.  I worked with a small construction crew and built houses on the backwater in Beulah, Alabama.  One day, some low life stole my lunch.  That never happened in the Navy, so I joined back up and never looked back again.  The Norfolk is still in commission as of 2014, and is stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.     

                                           Sumarine Base Funeral Detail

 

After being physically disqualified from submarine duty, I went to the Naval Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut.  I was placed in charge of the Navy Funeral Detail for New England. I have to admit, as hard as it was doing so many funerals, I have never been so proud of my country.  To be exposed to so many American Hero’s was truly an honor.   During my three years at the Subase I led over a thousand funerals for fallen veterans. 

 

                                       Administrative Support Unit, Southwest Asia

 

 

When I left the Subase, I was selected for admission into the Navy Law Enforcement program. The next two months were spent at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  After letting the Air Force abuse me, I packed up and headed to the Persian Gulf.  I took an assignment as a Police Officer on the island of Bahrain.  When this picture was taken, I was a Watch Commander at the Administrative Support Unit, Southwest Asia.  The two men with me are Nassir and Kalid, two members of the Bahraini Public Security, or the BPS.  All together I spent about four years in Bahrain.       

 

                                        USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968)        

 

After leaving Bahrain, I accepted orders to the USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-698).  The Radford was a Spruance-class destroyer in the United States Navy. She was named for Admiral Arthur W. Radford USN (1896–1973), the first naval officer to hold the title of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The USS Radford was laid down by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi and launched on 21 March 1975, sponsored by Mrs. Arthur Radford, the admiral's widow. Radford was commissioned on 16 April 1977, and decommissioned on 18 March 2003, after serving 26 years.

                                                  Radford gets a New Mast     

 

In May 1997, Radford received the first ever shipboard installation of the Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor System which fully integrates advanced materials, structures, and manufacturing technologies with sensor technology, electromagnetics, and signature reduction to achieve improved warfighting capabilities.

 

Mast stepping is the process of raising a boat’s mast and setting it into a notch or step in the keel.  There are sea legends that insist that the crew place coins under the new mast.  Due to the dangers of early sea travel, the coins were placed under the mast so the crew would be able to cross to the afterlife if the ship were sunk. The coins were supposed to pay Charon, the mythical ferryman, for transporting the dead across the River Styx.

                                         The Sinking of the Radford   

 

Arthur W. Radford was decommissioned in 2003, then stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 6 April 2004 and eventually assigned to the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On 8 June 2010, the ex-Radford was transferred to the State of Delaware for eventual sinking as an artificial reef onto the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef site Coordinates: 38°31′N 74°31′W / 38.517°N 74.517°W / 38.517; -74.517, about 30 nautical miles (56 km) southeast of Cape May, New Jersey and northeast of Ocean City, Maryland.   After being scuttled on 10 August 2011, the ship became part of the largest artificial reef on the east coast, and the longest vessel to be used for this purpose in the Atlantic.  

 

                   Saying 'Good-bye' to an old friend

 

It’s a strange feeling, seeing this mighty ship, an old friend, sinking down beneath the waves.  I was able to watch it live, via satellite, and it’s was kind of a sad thing to watch.  All those early mornings, praying silently on the forecastle before anyone else was even awake.  So many nights, thousands of miles away from home, swapping sea stories with my buddies on the fantail.  The barbeques and the swim calls, with so many people whom I will never forget.  Goodbye, old friend.      

                                           

                                                         USS Wisconsin (BB-64)

 

USS Wisconsin (BB-64), nicknamed "Wisky", is an Iowa-class battleship, the second ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. She was built at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and launched on 7 December 1943 (the second anniversary of the Pearl Harbor raid).  Wisconsin was last decommissioned in September 1991, having earned a total of six battle stars for service in World War II and Korea, as well as a Navy Unit Commendation for service during the January/February 1991 Gulf War. She currently functions as a museum ship operated by Nauticus, The National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Wisconsin was struck from the Naval Vessel Register (NVR) 17 March 2006, and, as of 14 December 2009, has been donated for permanent use as a museum ship. On 15 April 2010, the City of Norfolk officially took over ownership of the ship.

                                                            

                                                          My last ship...     

 

Here is a shot of the mighty Wisky in March of 2005, when I retired.  I wanted to spend my last minutes in the World’s Finest Navy under those mighty aft guns.  Over my years in the Navy, I was able to walk on the decks of all four of the mighty Battleships; The USS Missouri (BB-63), which is at rest in Pearl Harbor, just aft of the final resting place of the USS Arizona (BB- 39).  I also walked on the wooden decks of the USS New Jersey (BB-62) which now rests in Camden, New Jersey, as well as the USS Iowa (BB-61) resting in the port of Los Angeles.    

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