TOWN HALL MEETINGS
Our latest Town Hall Meeting, for ALL USS Duluth Shipmates and deployed Marines, was held on Saturday, October 30, 2021.
The main topic of the meeting will be the location of the 2022 Reunion. The current coronavirus pandemic has reluctantly forced us to postpone the Reunion to Mobile, Alabama on October 19-23, 2022.
Eric Daily and John Adams have been working on getting information for us about what we can expect while in Mobile. John Adams gave us rundown on the current planning for the Reunion. The rough Plan of the Day is:
Wednesday – Early Arrival
Thursday – Check In – Possible informal dinner.
Friday – An Event – Possible picnic/catered lunch.
Saturday – Farewell Dinner/Business Meeting
John said that we have been in contact with a company that hosts military reunions and that they have a minimum of 50 rooms rented for the event to receive their full assistance. If we have less than 50 rooms then they will provide registration and some planning but will assist us in our event planning.
Their planning for hotels would be to keep the pricing less that $149 per night, which is less than we received in Duluth at The Suites hotel.
Venues that we might be interested in are:
1. The Naval Air Museum at NAS Pensacola, FL, which is about a 1-hour drive away. So,
transportation costs need to be investigated.
2. The USS Alabama is located in Mobile at the Battleship Park along with the USS Drum. We
might be able to have a picnic lunch catered at the park. There is also a restored C-47
transport plane from the D-Day dropping of paratroopers on display .
3. Some members may also want to stay on the USS Alabama for a night and have breakfast on
the Mess Decks or lunch in the Wardroom.
4. The Farewell Dinner/Business Meeting location may also be at our hotel or possibly a nearby
VFW or American Legion post.
We are also asking our potential coordinator the help organize our hotel pricing along with breakfast included in the room price, free coffee service 24 hours, low charge or no charge for banquet room and hospitality room, and a low or no charge for audio equipment for the dinner and Business Meeting.
John also reminded us that the pandemic has severely affected many of us, and will have an effect on who will be attending the reunion. Inflation may also have an adverse effect on who will be attending.
Naming another USS Duluth – The subject of naming another LPD to USs Duluth came up and Don Rowe informed us that we are known around the Pentagon as a group interested in the naming of another ship USS Duluth, and specifically a new LPD. LPD-31 funding has been authorized by Congress and Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi will be building the ship. We want that ship to be named after Duluth and the Navy is fully aware of our desire for this to happen. The current Secretary of the Navy has not yet made a decision on what that ships name will be. But our presence is known, and our desires are also known. We are in a wait and see mode at the moment.
Commissioning of USS Minneapolis Saint Paul (LCS-21) – Don Rowe gave us an update on the status of the commissioning event to be held in Duluth. Don gave us the background on why the commissioning was delayed. The combining gear problems caused the Navy to delay indefinitely the commissioning until the combining gear problems were solved. The Minneapolis Saint Paul and the USS Cooperstown LCS-23 are the test beds for the upgraded combining gear repairs. Therefore, the schedule for the commissioning has been tentatively set for spring 2022, possibly May.
Don also said that the Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy, Jodi Greene, the sponsor of the USS Minneapolis Saint Paul LCS -21 has invited us to attend the commissioning. Navy ship commissionings are usually held by invitation only, so we are very honored to have been invited to attend. The original estimate of attendees was 15,000. Since the delay along with the pandemic that estimate has been reduced to 8-12,000. We are still on the invitation list. Don said that we will need commitments from our shipmates on who will be attending the commissioning. Then the Navy will send out each attendee an invitation. That means that each person will be vetted by the Navy prior to the event.
Bill O’Hara and Jerry Schultz said that they will definitely attend. Our plank owners want to meet their plank owners. Jerry said that he would try to contact as many plank owners as he can to see about getting more to attend too.
The Anchor Monument – Phil Michaud reminded us that the Anchor Monument in Duluth has been properly repainted with the correct, Navy approved, paint. And the chain has also been painted. So hopefully the appearance for next years commissioning will not be an embarrassment to us and the city.