Archive for Wednesday, March 24, 1999

RESIDENT TAKEN ON SUBMARINE TEST DIVE

March 24, 1999

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A Lawrence resident and retired Army officer recently spent a day and a night aboard a Trident submarine at sea.

It wasn't "The Hunt for Red October," but a Lawrence man recently got a thrill out of riding in a Trident submarine nonetheless.

Leonard Zeller, 70, last week spent a day and a night aboard the U.S.S. Louisiana, a 560-foot, 18,700-ton submarine that carries nuclear missiles.

"It was quite an experience," said Zeller, who was able to tour almost all areas of the sub during his visit, including the command center and torpedo rooms.

"We were even able to drive the submarine itself, with limitations," he said. "You can hardly run into anything out there."

Zeller, president of Lawrence Battery Co., 903 N. Third, made the visit as part of a Navy program in which members of the media and other guests tour subs that have undergone maintenance.

"After they're ready to go to sea again, they take them on a trial run and they take guests with them," Zeller said.

Zeller's son, Navy Capt. Ronald Zeller, is commander of the submarine base at Kings Bay, Ga., where the subs are repaired.

Zeller left from the base aboard the Louisiana and was returned to shore by a tugboat the next day.

He said the most exciting part of the trip was the anticipation.

"There's concern about claustrophobia and seasickness," he said, but "everybody is surprised about the conditions of the submarine. The submarine crew was very hospitable.

"It takes five, six hours to get out in water deep enough to dive the submarine."

Zeller said passengers didn't notice any difference in conditions when the submarine submerged.

He was able to watch the Louisiana's crew practice firing torpedoes and missiles.

The Navy uses the visits for promotion and recruitment, he said.

Zeller said that Morten Andersen, kicker for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, was among the guests on his visit.

"He was passing out autographed hats, and everyone seemed to be enjoying it," Zeller said.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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