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The Montgomery News’ SubFest on June 18

By Barbara A. Preston | April 21, 2022


The Montgomery News is proud to present SubFest, a benefit concert in celebration of the newest submarine in the Navy’s fleet. The submarine, now under construction, will be named after the great state of New Jersey. Come out to Princeton Airport on Saturday, June 18, to support your country and your state while enjoying food, drinks, rides, and live music featuring the ultimate Bon Jovi cover band, Slippery When Wet. Net proceeds from SubFest will be donated to the USS NJ Commissioning Committee to go towards quality of life improvements for submarine crew, scholarships for children of the crew, and commissioning festivities.

The USS New Jersey submarine under construction by Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding Division.

Montgomery News Publisher Norman Silverstein listened to fellow Montgomery resident Paul Blodgett talk about his career as a Naval Submarine Officer and Nuclear Engineer at their Rotary Club one day last year. Blodgett, a US Navy veteran, is now the fund-raising chairperson for the USS New Jersey — a nuclear-powered Virginia-class attack submarine that is currently under construction by Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding Division. It will be the third US Navy vessel named for the state of New Jersey.

Montgomery resident Paul Blodgett from his boot camp days in the US Navy in 1999.

As the fund-raising chairperson, Blodgett is looking to raise at least $500,000 to 700,000 from corporate and individual sponsors. “The funds go to the ceremonial celebrations when the ship is commissioned, efforts to build connections between the ship and the state, habitability upgrades for the ship to improve quality of life, and seeding a scholarship fund for the families of crew members,” Blodgett says.


Publisher Silverstein, who also resides in Montgomery Township and has experience in fund-raising, wanted to help Blodgett with his worthy cause. As a result, The Montgomery News is sponsoring SubFest. The family-style event will include a mechanical shark ride, a 25-foot climbing tower, and a variety of vendors, as well as a concert.


Blodgett says, “I think it is a point of pride to have a submarine named after our state. It connects people, and makes the sub feel like more of a home, less of a sterile environment.” The crew goes underwater, off the radar, literally, with no cell phone or email, for six to eight months at a time. So the naming of the vessel is important, in that it becomes a home with actual character.


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A large part of the commissioning committee is to imbue the character of the namesake into the submarine. “And, I hope this one will have a Jersey attitude,” Blodgett says. The submarine crew members have been visiting New Jersey in groups. In May, a group of 24 crew members are coming to experience the state, and see historical sites, businesses, the Pine Lands, Atlantic City, and more.


Parts of the submarine will be named after parts of the state. For example, the tunnel that leads to the nuclear reactor compartment will be named the Holland Tunnel, the state rooms are named for different exits off the New Jersey Turnpike. Decor could include a portion of the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. Or, there could be devil horns, tail, and wings as a reference to the Jersey Devil, the legendary creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens, and also the namesake of the New Jersey Devils hockey club. “And I would love for different cities to sponsor different divisions,” he said. “Montgomery could sponsor the machinery division. That is one of my fundraising ideas.”


The submarine will be the most technologically advanced and most sophisticated submarine ever because it’s the latest one, Blodgett says. “It is more complicated than the space shuttle, actually,” he said. “We make our air and water, and it’s an entirely controlled environment.” Of note, “we should be proud that this is the first submarine that will be fully integrated to accommodate a female and male crew at all ranks,” he said.


Women were not allowed on submarines, when Blodgett served. As of 2012, though, some submarines have been retrofitted to accommodate female crew members. This is important to a man with a wife, Melissa, and three daughters: Flora, 14, Celeste, 12, and Adelaide, 7, and a son, Maxwell, 5.


The USS New Jersey, under construction in Norfolk, Virginia, will be delivered to the Navy later this year. It will be commissioned in 2023. These submarines will have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert, long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces, according to NavalToday.com. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. They are also designed for special forces delivery and support.


Get Your Tickets Today

Standard Adult Tickets are $30 (Tickets purchased before May 12 are $5 off.)

Kids ages 5 to 12: $10 at www.subfestnj.com.

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