Thursday, February 5, 2015
Retired Navy sub commander leading drive to raise $800,000 to make USS Illinois more livable
CHICAGO (CBS) – Supporters of the $2.7 billion attack submarine USS Illinois have trying to raise $800,000 to help make the ship more livable for Navy sailors.
“The Navy spends enormous amounts of money building a wonderful ship, and then puts in flimsy bunk curtains for the sailors,” said Len Wass, chairman of the USS Illinois Commissioning Committee.
Wass, a retired Navy sub captain and former management consultant from Oswego, said part of the $800,000 the committee is raising will go to upgrading those curtains.
“We’ll have pockets sewn in on them. If you’re down there for 70 days, and you have now privacy in your bunk, and you have a place to store your iPad, or whatever, it makes a lot of difference,” Wass said.
The $800,000 also will fund other enhancements to the ship, and pay for all the ceremonies surrounding the christening of the USS Illinois in June, including a traditional champagne bath by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Wass said the nuclear submarine has been built to the highest specifications, but the Navy has not been quite as generous with the ceremonial launching party.
“It’s $2.7 billion, is the taxpayer cost, and the only thing that the taxpayers and the Navy fund out of that is some bunting and … bleachers for the commissioning ceremony,” he said.
The official launch of the sub has been planned for Dec. 20 on the Thames River in Connecticut. The Illinois is being built at the General Dynamics Electric Boat construction facility in Groton, Connecticut.