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Inside the Gates: Effort underway to create USS Alaska monument in Seward

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 8:16 PM AKST
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SEWARD, Alaska (KTUU) - The Navy submarine U.S.S. Alaska last visited Seward in July 1987. The next trip to town could be a lot longer if Waino Salo gets his wish.

He heads the nonprofit Alaska Submarine Memorial that would also contain a museum. The goal is to create a a monument to the U.S.S. Alaska located in Seward, and connected to a museum that would house reconstructed rooms and exhibits.

“We’re going to try and see if we can bring and put together, reconstruct the whole control room in here,” Salo said. “We also want to do something in regards to where our berthing is at.”

Salo does not want the whole submarine, just pieces of it. The idea for the project, according to Salo, began about eight years ago.

“We want to give back to the state of Alaska and offer them something that they can come and see, and witness, and go walk on,” Salo said. “And enjoy just what the life of sailor on a Trident submarine was all about.”

Life in the “silent service,” the term for those who served on submarines, is something Salo understands. He’s part of the Alaska’s first crew when it went out on its first patrol in 1986. He spent nearly 3 1/2 years on the Alaska, and those he served with are part of his fondest memories.

“It’s totally different than like high school reunions or anything like that,” Salo said. “When you’re underwater, you train together, you live together, you do everything together. And you’re dependent upon each other’s lives together.”

There’s still plenty of work to be done before people visit the memorial-museum, including deciding where to place it in Seward, although talks with the city continue.

Plus, the U.S. Department of Defense must agree to give Salo’s group the pieces of the submarine it wants for the project Salo said could be completed in five years.

Finally, Salo admitted he does not know how much the project will cost, but he is working on grants and donations to pay for it.

The U.S.S. Alaska is currently based out of Kings Bay, Georgia. As the submarine gets closer to the end of its service, Salo wants to give it new life, and a new home in the state for which it’s named.

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