Groton a step closer to creating sub sail memorial

Groton — The USS Groton Sail Foundation cleared one more hurdle this week toward creating a future memorial for the sail of the town's namesake nuclear attack submarine.

The Groton City Planning and Zoning Commission approved a change to zoning regulations to allow the future memorial on Bridge Street. Prior to the unanimous decision, the small park was not a permitted use in a general commercial zone, Planning Commissioner David Rose said.

William Vogel, chairman of the USS Groton Sail Foundation board of directors, said the group also is negotiating with the owner of a property on Bridge Street near the World War II National Submarine Memorial.

The purchase was delayed because the land is one of three properties the owner had to clear of environmental contaminants before selling, Vogel said. The owner has since completed the physical work, he said.

Foundation member Rich Moravsik said the landowner owes about $70,000 in back taxes on the three properties. The current plan is that the owner would use a portion of the sale proceeds to pay the taxes, Moravsik said.

The "sail" of a submarine is the tower-like portion that protrudes from the hull at the center of the ship. The USS Groton sail is about 26 feet long, 18 feet tall and 5 feet, 6 inches wide. It's currently divided into two sections that together weigh 92,000 pounds, and are being stored at the Naval Submarine Base.

The sail is covered with lead paint, so the first task is scraping off the paint and properly disposing of it. The sail pieces then would be transported by truck to Electric Boat, where workers would clean the jagged seams, clear any rust, sandblast the surface and paint the sail. The foundation still is awaiting final approval from EB about donating the work, Moravsik said. 

Once finished, the sail pieces would be welded together and bolted to a concrete foundation yet to be built.

The USS Groton (SSN-694), a Los Angeles-class attack sub, was the third Navy ship named for Groton. Built at Electric Boat, it was launched in October 1976, commissioned in July 1978, and decommissioned in November 1997.

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