Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vets battle for submarine memorial
Group seeks site approval for USS Phoenix remnants

by Michael Ferraresi - Oct. 12, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

After nearly a decade of failed attempts, a group of local veterans will try again this fall to work with city officials on securing a site for a Cold War monument based around the remnants of the USS Phoenix submarine.

The veterans fighting for the shrine never served on the city's namesake sub. But they feel a connection to the Cold War-era nuclear attack ship and they want to bring its remains to Phoenix.

The city-appointed group, the USS Phoenix Commission, will likely be disbanded in December. Peter Lumianski, one of the original commission members from its inception in 1989, said the group modified its proposal for the city to build the submarine shrine at Steele Indian School Park after city staff balked at the scope of original proposals.

To complete the shrine, the commission would have to receive approval from city parks officials to later work with the U.S. Navy to move the submarine's sail and rudder to Phoenix. The sail is the 18-foot-high, tower-like structure that holds the ship's periscope and communications components.

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board will hear the presentation Oct. 23. Lumianski and others said that if a site is approved, it could take until 2012 to physically move the submarine parts to Phoenix.

"You have to lean on the Navy to get it cut up, pay to truck it down here . . . this is a project that will outlive me," said Lumianski, a retired Navy helicopter pilot and vice chair of the USS Phoenix Commission.

The U.S. Navy launched the USS Phoenix in 1979 to engage Russian submarines during the Cold War. In 1989, then-Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard arranged for a group of Phoenix residents to work with the Navy to develop a relationship with the submarine.

In 1998, the Navy decommissioned the Phoenix.

Since then, the USS Phoenix Commission has used volunteers and donations to work toward bringing submarine artifacts to Phoenix. The goal for the park shrine would be to create a public educational site around the submarine.

"This would be just one way to credit not only the people who rode that particular ship, but for the rest us who spent our careers under the umbrellas of the Cold War," said Jim Denzien, vice commander of the Phoenix chapter of Perch Base, a submarine veterans group that could soon take up the fight to build a USS Phoenix monument.


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