Bell of the Ball

A Minnesota tradition lives on as Lockheed Martin employees present bell to crew of submarine namesake

After almost 30 years of shore duty, a Lockheed Martin relic from Eagan, Minnesota, is finally headed out to sea.

With the facility scheduled to close following recent consolidations, Eagan employees decided to present a submarine bell given to the facility 27 years ago in honor of USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul. During a recent ceremony, the bell was given to the crew of pre-commissioning unit (PCU) Minnesota, a Virginia-class submarine slated for completion in 2013.

“It’s an artifact that has meant a lot to the employees up in Eagan, and we knew it would mean a lot to the crew of Minnesota as well,” said Chuck Beers, a recently retired Lockheed Martin employee and retired U.S. Navy rear admiral. ““It’s a link of the past. I didn’t want it to get lost or disposed of or, worst of all, forgotten. It’s a little piece of history that’s meaningful to Minnesota.”

Cmdr. John Fancher of PCU Minnesota, along with his 10-member crew, accepted the bell as a link to the submarine force’s past traditions and to set the performance bar for his crew against the Minneapolis-Saint Paul’s 25-year record.

The smiles and applause were a stark difference to the Twin Cities’ reaction three decades ago. When the Navy announced in 1980 that a Los Angeles-class submarine was to be named USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul, local leaders were reluctant to attend the ceremonies held for what some considered an “instrument of war.”

The Navy League worked to drum up support for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul and eventually won over four major companies, including Sperry Rand. In 1984 as a token of appreciation, four bells were poured and Beers, the submarine’s commanding officer at the time, presented one to Sperry, where it was displayed and which remained there when Lockheed Martin acquired the site in the mid-1990s.

The bell isn’t Lockheed Martin’s only connection to the PCU Minnesota. In February Lockheed Martin delivered the 8,000th Q-70  computer console suite to the Navy for installation aboard the Minnesota.

USS-Minnesota-Keel-Laying-300 Lockheed Martin employees presented a ship’s bell to the crew of the USS Minnesota, a Virginia-class submarine slated for completion in 2013. The bell was given to the company’s Eagan facility 27 years ago in appreciation for its support of the USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Photo courtesy Huntington Ingalls.