Blog Editor’s notes: The term “American Classic”, in reference to the USS Bremerton, recently made a sensation in social media by Bremerton Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Wes Bringham, in the Kitsap Sun video published on February 28, 2016.

This is the second article by contributing writer Russ Woods, a 698 Plankowner, who offers his insights to life on the Bremerton in the early days as she began her ocean going journey out of the shipyards. Although we in the early generations of 698 crews did not refer to our boat as the BadFish, I believe, Russ really offers this as a token of respect to the later crews and her current cadre of submariners who are responsible for taking her deep and bringing her home.

Not only does Russ Woods offer valuable crew member insights of the early years of the Bremerton but he also offers it with a certain retrospective sharpness, humility and self-disclosure that I appreciate as a fellow submariner and shipmate.


The new shining star of the US Navy’s submarine fleet, USS Bremerton arriving in Bremerton, Washington, Fall 1982. Image courtesy of Donald Jones, Plankowner, USS Bremerton.




By Russ Woods

In my time I served in three different submarines: Bremerton, Henry M. Jackson and Michigan. I was fortunate enough to be a Plankowner in Bremerton and Henry M. Jackson.

I must confess in my youth I did not demonstrate the affection for my Submarine as I seem to these days. I was just as quick to make comments like “This boat sucks” or “I hate this boat” as many of my shipmates did at one time or another. Case in point “C.A.R.T.” – If you were there you know what this means.

How naïve I and we were. As many of you have experienced or at least heard, the ’98 boat was a problem child. She was impudent and cantankerous. She did not seem to want to come out of the gate. We, my Plankowner shipmates and I, collectively through hard work, inspiring dedication and endurance of significant hardships brought her out. We were also one of the last to hear the phrase “Rig for Rickover”. Those who were there know exactly what that means.

How were we to know then we were serving in a history-making Warship? The first clue should have been her maiden voyage around the southern tip of Africa and into the Indian Ocean, where she performed flawlessly while we troublemakers steered her into troubled waters and performed sneaky spy stuff on the unsuspecting Soviets and the hapless Libyans motoring around in shallow waters that they felt they were the masters of. Yea, not so, says Badfish 698.

Then a short few months later our girl goes out on a pleasure cruise to visit her namesake city and allow us steely eyed denizens a “fun run” to reward us for our great service to America. But in an instant the Badfish phone rang and Uncle Sugar needed us to re-think our priorities and turned our “fun run” into a Spec-Op. And of course our thoroughbred answered the call and hit full stride on our run to the Pacific North West to counter Ivan’s nefarious plans. She made history then by becoming the fastest submarine in the fleet and by extension the fastest in the world.

The Captain’s log from commissioning forward reads of one challenging exploit after another that our girl accepted and excelled at.

When I reflect back on my sometimes crappy attitude that at times I demonstrated I feel a strong pang of regret deep inside my soul. I am hopeful any of my shipmates who occasionally shared my bad behavior have been fortunate enough to feel remorse for their wicked tongue that blasphemed against what is now our pride.

She is now beyond a shadow of a doubt the finest of the 688 class. Testimony to the professionalism of her first august crew and every single crewman who has served in her since. We my shipmates own a part of history. No matter what those evil yard birds do to her after she is finally decommissioned, she will always belong to the Ages. Her name will be there at the top of the list of longest serving submarines in our country’s history. Our great grandchildren and beyond will see her name in Jane’s fighting Ships. They will be able to say with pride, “My great-grandfather served in her.”

Yes, any of us who besmirched her name even once should feel justly ashamed. Because USS Bremerton SSN 698 was taking us all on a ride in history. Marking us as a very privileged group. A brotherhood of the Badfish, an “American Classic”.

russwoodsRuss Woods, Plankowner, back in the day.





USS Bremerton, the longest serving submarine in the United States Navy, is home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is currently not scheduled for decommissioning.



Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.


STS1/SS(DV) Challen Yee U.S. Navy Submariner

Blog Editor: STS1/SS(DV) Challen Yee, USS Bremerton 1983-1986

6 Replies to “SSN698: AN “AMERICAN CLASSIC””

  1. Russ, You did leave a most remarkable impression on this new nub when I got to the boat. I was supposed to be on the Omaha but squadron re assigned me to the Bremerton because at the time 698 was low stocked on FTG’s. Mike Meehan will never forget your methods to quite down your sea puppy Hanson. My qual card has your signature in several places, you made me earn all of them. The picture of Bremerton approaching the city of Bremerton Washington brought back some fine memories, I was up on the port side fairwater plane for that. Steve(george) Carlin was on one side and Bona(zona) was on the other .Those two razzed me so hard that transit that I didn’t even notice how cold it was. Being a nub at the time I just took it. I got even eventually I became their inport duty section leader. Good times to be young.

  2. Good job there Woodie, One of the best bits of Navy dumb luck I had was being bumped from the Omaha to be assinged to the Bremerton. Squadron thought that there was a shortage of FTG’s and reassinged me. That picture of the boat entering the city of Bremerton bring back memories. I was up on the portside fairwater plane with Steve(george) Carlin and Bona(zona) on both sides of me ragging on a poor nub so much I forgot how cold it was that morning. I still hear from Mike Meehan He will never forget your methods to shut up your noisey sea-puppy Hanson. Looking at my qualcard and I see your signature, you made me earn it. Thanks buddie.

  3. Brother it has been a day or two since those fun days on Bremerton. I myself never really understood the concept of responsibility and accountability until COB allowed me to be the Deck LPO the last 8 months of my tour. I was a bit of a free spirit until then. Those learned lessons would have been the reason for the challenging checkouts on your qual card. As for Hanson, Lord help him I pray he eventually grew up. On a daily basis I never met anyone more in need of a bitch slap than young Mister Hanson. ROLL TIDE!

  4. Woodey , you rocked! I was a NC nub ex skimmer puke by detailer when I came onboard, just like Shirey and Buchin, yeah this is F-ing Schneider the FTG. Mike Meehan still talks about how you had to go so far out of bounds to get Hanson under control, and the little puke still wouldn’t shut up. You set the standard on how a Sub sailor made his mark on The Boat. Thanks for being the right guy at the right time, no BS. If not for you I would of crashed and burned. But I saw what you did and said ,yeah, I can do that! I ended up Fire Control LPO and foreward duty section #2 leader, and a signer of quals for forewards upper level . Also some job related stuff for weapons handling ,all of it big and regular. It was a long time ago but we did change the world, never forget, what we did ,made the world safer for our children. And now our grand children. All that s*#t we thought we had to live through ain’t so bad now. We did our job and duty , and lived life large. CC was big and scariey you were real.

  5. Woody
    I had the pleasure of first Having Peter Bernstein then you as my LPO on the Seaman gang. Being on the Bremerton taught me what teamwork was and the importance of it. I remember and treasure those days and earning my Dolphins and the day the were tacked on by my cremated was the proudest day of my Naval career. I never made it back to the boats because,I chose the route of Navy Corps man and didn’t make the Navy a career. But the pride I had serving in the Navy and in Submarines in my first two years will forever be embedded in me. You and the rest of the crew had a major part to do with this!
    I often tell folks I meet from Alabama about you and your famous line…you can talk about my mama, you can talk about my sister, BUT NEVER EVER talk about the MOTHERLAND!
    My Pastor and good friend is an Alabama native and has taught me the importance of “Roll Tide” so needless to say I have thought of you often throughout my life!