On a barren patch of Valley desert sits the remnants of one of the world’s most advanced nuclear submarines.
You read that right.
Fans of the USS Phoenix hope she sails again, at least symbolically.
For now, what’s left of the Los Angeles Class attack sub rests in a dusty corner of the Papago military complex, awaiting the day enough funding is raised to create a monument at Phoenix’s Steele Indian School Park.
“Most of the Cold War submarine history is unknown to the public,” said Peter Lumianski, a retired Navy captain who’s spent more than 20 years working to salvage and preserve what’s left of the Phoenix.
“You could make the case that the submarines were the main cause which helped us prevail in the Cold War.”
That’s because the Soviet military was heavily vested in nuclear submarines. They were larger, faster and quieter than their U.S. counterparts – until advanced ships like the USS Phoenix joined the fleet.
The Phoenix spent 17 years patrolling the world’s oceans, keeping tabs on Soviet vessels and serving on our nation’s first line of defense.
She was decommissioned in 1998, not because she was outdated but because her nuclear fuel was spent. In a cost-saving move, the Navy chose not to replace the fuel and the Phoenix went into storage.
That’s when Lumianski, a Naval Academy grad and former helicopter pilot became involved. He and others wanted key components of the ship preserved and returned to its namesake city as a monument to the “silent service” of submarines and the Cold War.
In 2016, the first step of that mission was completed. The sail, the diving planes and rudder were salvaged and arrived in Papago for storage.
You can view them today, according to Lumianski. Take the south entrance on to the military complex, show the guard a valid driver’s license and take your first right.
About a quarter-mile down the road, just before it dead ends, the dark gray appendages of the USS Phoenix rise from a lot on the right.
It’s a forlorn resting place for a legendary Cold War warrior, but Lumianski and other project volunteers are working to change that.
They envision a walkable monument that stretches nearly the length of the original 362-foot submarine. The Phoenix’s remnants would be displayed along with other artifacts and plaques that tell the submarine’s history and its role in our national defense.
The monument would rise near the Phoenix VA hospital and an Arizona State Veterans Home.
“We’re hoping the monument will appeal to veterans of all our services and civilians,” Lumianski said. “We feel it’s an important story to share.”
A story that is still being written. Of the 62 Los Angeles Class subs built, 40 are still on active duty.
To contribute to the USS Phoenix monument or to learn more, visit ussphoenixmonument.org.
Some news of Scottsdale servicemen overseas:
Marine Sgt. Braxton Roman, from Scottsdale, recently participated in Exercise Hydracrab, a joint training mission conducted by forces from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S. The exercise took place in the Indo-Pacific region.
Roman is assigned to Force Reconnaissance Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force. An explosive ordinance disposal technician, he instructed counterparts from other nations on breaching saw techniques and other EOD skills to ensure an integrated and capable allied force.
Navy Chief Operations Specialist Nicholas Mark from Scottsdale recently participated in Exercise Northern Edge.
The exercise is one in a series of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercises that prepares joint forces to respond to a crisis in the region. Mark led a team that participated in replenishment-at-sea missions aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd.