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
Next shot was of the train stretched out in front of the Nautilus
Then a shot of the trailing power with the sail of the Nautilus
And a final shot of the trailing power heading for the trees
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.
Just then a US Coast Guard cutter, the Ridley, was heading north in the channel at a slow rate.
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!
At the same time, the tugboat Leslie Ann was making their way south through the drawbridge with a crane barge heading for the Sound.
As they got closer I got a shot of two guys hanging out on the bow of the barge
And another shot of them as they passed by the Ridley
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
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
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.
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
Then they began raising the masts again
And a shot of the sail, with the periscope masts fully extended
As the sub passed in front of me, they also passed by the Ridley waiting near the State Pier
A shot with the train station in the background
And the Ridley begins to move south
Right behind it is one of the rigid hull inflatable escorts
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
And a tight crop on the top of the sail, with New London in the background
And the sub splitting the channel markers, with the Shaw’s Cove swing bridge in the background
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
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!