Normalcy and unexpectedness 2


It’s looking like Providence & Worcester train NR-2 is settling back into their regular “schedule.” But of course, with that bit of return to normalcy, a bit of the unforeseen crept in. But of course, the unexpected is often times a good thing. This time wouldn’t be any different.

I got out a bit later than my typical time hoping that NR-2 would be slipping back into their normal rhythm. Luckily, that was the case, but they weren’t that late – As I was nearing Military Highway, they reported to the Worcester dispatcher that they were south of MP6. So my spot would be the USS Nautilus overlook park just up the road.

I pulled into the ice-encrusted parking area a few minutes later, and at the same time NR-2 reported that they were south of MP5, putting them a few minutes north of me. I swapped the telephoto lens for the wide angle, and made my way to the fenceline. I should have brought ice skates because the ground was literally a few inches of solid ice.

I got there just as NR-2 was coming through the sub base, and a moment later the crossing gates at the Nautilus activated. That was followed by locomotive horns, then P&W NR-2’s lead power and its reflection emerging from behind the US Navy Submarine Force Museum building

Providence & Worcester train NR-2 heads past the US Submarine Force Museum in Groton, CT
Providence & Worcester train NR-2 heads past the US Submarine Force Museum in Groton, CT
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Next shot was of the train stretched out in front of the Nautilus

NR-2 rolls past the USS Nautilus and Submarine Force Museum in Groton
NR-2 rolls past the USS Nautilus and Submarine Force Museum in Groton
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Then a shot of the trailing power with the sail of the Nautilus

NR-2s trailing power passes the USS Nautilus in Groton
NR-2s trailing power passes the USS Nautilus in Groton
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And a final shot of the trailing power heading for the trees

NR-2s trailing power heads south in Groton
NR-2s trailing power heads south in Groton
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Next stop was the Thames River drawbridge. So I made my way back over the skating rink, and slowly drove the car out over the small glacier that formed over the parking lot.

I got to the parking lot just after Amtrak train 171 pulled into the station. Once they left, NR-2 should be able to get onto the corridor and begin their trek west to New Haven.

Not long after 171 left New London (after a brief pause to clear some ice buildup under one of the coaches), NR-2 made their way onto the drawbridge heading for the New London side of the river.

NR-2 heads over the Thames River drawbridge
NR-2 heads over the Thames River drawbridge
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Just then a US Coast Guard cutter, the Ridley, was heading north in the channel at a slow rate.

A US Coast Guard cutter heads north waiting for the arrival of a southbound US Navy submarine
A US Coast Guard cutter heads north waiting for the arrival of a southbound US Navy submarine
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Odd that he’d be there, but hey, the Thames is a port, so maybe he was on patrol. Just as I was pondering that, the ship to shore frequency locked in with the words “Navy Pilot to Thames River draw.” That only meant one thing – a sub was heading south. So that’s what the cutter was doing there! As he approached the State Pier, he slowed to a stop and began to reverse direction, so I got a nice bow-on shot of her, sporting twin .50 caliber Browning machine guns on the bow!

A bow-on view of a US Coast Guard cutter.  Note the two .50 caliber machine guns mounted to either side of the bow
A bow-on view of a US Coast Guard cutter. Note the two .50 caliber machine guns mounted to either side of the bow
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At the same time, the tugboat Leslie Ann was making their way south through the drawbridge with a crane barge heading for the Sound.

The tug Leslie Ann moves a crane barge south in the Thames River
The tug Leslie Ann moves a crane barge south in the Thames River
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As they got closer I got a shot of two guys hanging out on the bow of the barge

Riding the bow of the crane barge
Riding the bow of the crane barge
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And another shot of them as they passed by the Ridley

The crane barge heads south past the US Coast Guard cutter
The crane barge heads south past the US Coast Guard cutter
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While all this was going on, the Navy Pilot was trying to raise the bridge tender to no avail. Frustration was starting to slowly creep into the Navy officer’s voice with each iteration of “Navy Pilot to Thames River draw.” Someone finally joined in and offered to raise the tender on his Nextel, which of course was taken up by the Navy Pilot. A moment later the bridge tender got on the radio as the Pilot asked for an estimate of the next opening.

As that conversation was going on, an eastbound Acela rattled across the drawbridge, so I got a couple frames of that train

An eastbound Amtrak Acela crosses over the Thames River past the construction project
An eastbound Amtrak Acela crosses over the Thames River past the construction project
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The tail end of an eastbound Amtrak Acela crosses the Thames River
The tail end of an eastbound Amtrak Acela crosses the Thames River
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As the train was crossing over the bridge, the tender informed the Navy Pilot that they could have an opening in 2 minutes. The Pilot thanked him, and signed off as the small flotilla of Coast Guard boats, tugboats and the submarine continued south at a good pace.

Typically submarines travel on the surface with the periscopes in the deployed position, making it necessary for the bridge to be open for the sub to pass through. As the sub approached the drawbridge, at a distance of maybe a quarter mile to the north, the Thames River draw tender got on the radio and said he’d have to wait to open for another few minutes – there was a train at Midway heading towards the bridge. Needless to say, the Navy Pilot was not happy about it, but kept his composure and professional military demeanor, and told the tender he needed to know that information beforehand so he could plan accordingly.

The flotilla slowed down to a crawl as the westbound Acela rattled across the drawbridge. I got one shot of one of the smaller Coast Guard cutters waiting for the sub as the Acela passed overhead

A westbound Amtrak Acela passes over the Thames River as a US Coast Guard cutter waits for a southbound US Navy submarine
A westbound Amtrak Acela passes over the Thames River as a US Coast Guard cutter waits for a southbound US Navy submarine
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Then instead of seeing the bridge rise, I saw a submarine pass underneath, with the periscopes stowed. I guess it was easier to maintain headway, especially with the tide going out, rather than try to stop and wait for the opening.

The Los Angeles Class fast attack submarine, USS Greenville, heads for the closed Thames River drawbridge with her periscopes retracted
The Los Angeles Class fast attack submarine, USS Greenville, heads for the closed Thames River drawbridge with her periscopes retracted
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The Los Angeles Class fast attack submarine, USS Greenville, passes under the closed Thames River drawbridge with her periscopes retracted
The Los Angeles Class fast attack submarine, USS Greenville, passes under the closed Thames River drawbridge with her periscopes retracted
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Only the tugboat needed to wait for the bridge to open.

Speaking with a woman also photographing the boat, apparently this was the USS Greenville (which in and of itself is odd, since the Greenville is based in Pearl Harbor, but hey, who am I to question?) Anyways, another shot as the boat left the area of the drawbridge

The Greenville on the south side of the Thames River drawbridge
The Greenville on the south side of the Thames River drawbridge
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Then they began raising the masts again

Now with periscopes extended, the Greenville continues south
Now with periscopes extended, the Greenville continues south
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And a shot of the sail, with the periscope masts fully extended

The sail of the Greenville
The sail of the Greenville
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As the sub passed in front of me, they also passed by the Ridley waiting near the State Pier

The Greenville passes the State Pier in New London where a USCG cutter waits
The Greenville passes the State Pier in New London where a USCG cutter waits
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The Greenville passes the State Pier in New London
The Greenville passes the State Pier in New London
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A shot with the train station in the background

The Greenville heads south in the Thames River
The Greenville heads south in the Thames River
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And the Ridley begins to move south

The USCG cutter follows the submarine south
The USCG cutter follows the submarine south
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Right behind it is one of the rigid hull inflatable escorts

A US Coast Guard rigid hull inflatable boat prepares to head south with the USS Greenville
A US Coast Guard rigid hull inflatable boat prepares to head south with the USS Greenville
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As the boats continued south out of sight, I hopped in the car and headed for the next spot, near the lobster company. As I parked, the boat was in view, so I got a shot with her and New London again in the background

The Greenville glides past New London
The Greenville glides past New London
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The Greenville glides past New London
The Greenville glides past New London
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And a tight crop on the top of the sail, with New London in the background

Some of the crew of the USS Greenville rides the sail on the way past New London
Some of the crew of the USS Greenville rides the sail on the way past New London
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And the sub splitting the channel markers, with the Shaw’s Cove swing bridge in the background

The Greenville continues south in the Thames River
The Greenville continues south in the Thames River
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And finally a trio of shots with the lobster company’s pier in the foreground. I really liked the way the water looked against the sky, with a slight bit of blue sky peeking through

The Greenville continues south past a pier south of the Electric Boat shipyard
The Greenville continues south past a pier south of the Electric Boat shipyard
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The Greenville heads south under increasing clouds
The Greenville heads south under increasing clouds
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The Greenville continues south past a pier south of the Electric Boat shipyard
The Greenville continues south past a pier south of the Electric Boat shipyard
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As the sub continued south past the Electric Boat shipyard, I climbed back in the car and headed back to the office. Not a bad hour out & about Groton.

Thanks for looking!
Tom

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2 thoughts on “Normalcy and unexpectedness

  • Rachel

    Hi Tom! Thanks so much for the photos of the USS Greeneville. That is the sub my nephew has just been stationed on. And you are correct, the Greeneville IS based in Pearl Harbor, except that since about mid-October it’s been on its’ way to the Portsmouth Naval Yard for about 18 mos of rehabbing.

    As a matter of fact, my nephew was sent to Groton yesterday, told me he ended up being the chauffeur. I guess some of the crew were sent to join the sub on the rest of it’s trip up to Portsmouth.

    I was so excited to see so many great photos. Naturally, we don’t get many from Navy sources. I sent him a link to your website so he could have a look as well.

    Btw, we were so excited and apprehensive when he learned his duty station would be Pearl Harbor. As soon as he let us know I started researching and found, perhaps before even he did, that the Greeneville had just left Pearl Harbor on its’ way to Portsmouth.

    Then, we were relieved when we heard that he would be stationed in Kittery ME while the sub is in dock. That gives us another 18 mos before we KNOW we won’t be seeing him and his wife as often.

    Didn’t mean to go on and on, just excited to find the pictures.

    Have a good Christmas
    Rachel in Indiana

  • Tom Nanos Post author

    Rachel-

    Well, I’m glad to have brightened your day with the photos I took of the Greenville! And thank you for the info on the boat – now it all makes sense what’s going on and why she’s here in the northeast.

    Also, a huge thank you to your nephew for serving in the Navy. My hats off to him.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family as well. Don’t worry about going on and on…I do it myself quite often. 🙂

    -Tom