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USS Scranton Commander and Sailors visit namesake city

The USS Scranton submarine measures 360 feet.
MC2 Colby A. Mothershead/MC2 Colby A. Mothershead
CSS 11 Public Affairs
The USS Scranton submarine measures 360 feet.

The city of Scranton welcomed the Commanding Officer and Sailors from the USS Scranton submarine this week.

Commander Jeff Ransom made a connection right away between the city’s values and the culture on his ship.

“Our nickname is the Iron Horse,” he said. “So we put the locomotive on a lot of stuff because it kind of represents the people of Scranton, Eastern Pennsylvania. We take pride in the fact that we have a lot of the same values. Hard work, dedication, perseverance.”

“On the boat when announcements are made… someone will lead off with Iron Horse, the entire crew will respond with Iron Men,” said First Class Petty Officer Erik Nunez, who was charmed by the city.

“Totally different from where the boat’s at,” he said, referring to where they live in San Diego. “It’s such an honor to finally see where the name comes from.”

First Class Petty Officer Bryan Smith enjoyed getting to know the city.

“We learned that all roads lead to Scranton since we’ve been here,” he said. “I think we’re going to work that into some stuff back on the ship. A lot of the guys will love to hear that.”

The Welcoming Committee

Dr. Matthew Berger, a psychiatrist with a practice in Moosic, is the reason the USS Scranton Commanders’ Commemoration Committee exists. He met a former commander of USS Scranton, John Bird, while touring another naval submarine in Georgia.

Dr. Berger learned that Commander Bird was going to visit Scranton in 2016 for the submarine’s 25th anniversary and knew that locals would want to get involved.

He recruited sisters Michele Greene and Liz Dengler, who both worked for Dr. Berger at the time. They established a fund and planned visits for USS Scranton commanders in 2016, 2019, and 2023.

The Carbondale sisters arranged four days of tours and meet and greets for this week.

“They did a phenomenal job last time,” Dengler said, referring to students’ reaction to prior crew members who visited John F. Kennedy Elementary in 2019. “It was like goosebumps and it brought tears to my eyes.”

Getting to Know (USS) Scranton

The 6,000-ton nuclear-powered submarine named after the Electric City was commissioned in 1991. It’s a warship, but it has not been to combat.

“We train for a variety of missions,” Commander Ransom said. “We don’t really talk about what we can do and what we’ve done, but we are an important part of the national security structure and the fleet.”

He described the boat as an underground city, with about 140 officers and crew on board. The ship is dry-docked in San Diego right now, undergoing maintenance and repairs.

“The ship’s about 30 years old so it can be a task to keep everything working,” said Bryan Joel Smith, a navigation electronics technician.

The submarine will be decommissioned in 2026, following 35 years of service.

Electronics Technician 3rd Class Bruce Morgan/Electronics Technician 3rd Class
CSS 11 Public Affairs

Haley joined the WVIA news team in 2023 as a reporter and host. She grew up in Scranton and studied Broadcast Journalism at Marywood University. Haley has experience reporting in Northeast Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. She enjoys reporting on Pennsylvania history and culture, and video storytelling.

You can email Haley at haleyobrien@wvia.org