Vandalized Submarine Sign Groton
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Vandalized Sign Raises Ire Of The Community

Residents shocked at the defacing of Groton icon

By Julie Wernau
Day Staff Writer \/ Waterford
E-mail: j.wernau@theday.com
Phone No.: (860) 701 - 4409

Published on 10/20/2006 in Region » Region Main Photo  
 
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Vandals painted an anti-war statement and an obscenity on the "Groton: Submarine Capital of the World" sign, located on I-95 North in Groton, late Wednesday night. Local residents and officials have vowed to repaint the sign if necessary. State police are investigating.
Groton — Amanda Hutson will be avoiding Interstate 95 in Groton today so that her two young sons won't see the defacing of the submarine-shaped sign declaring Groton “The Submarine Capital of the World.”

A Navy wife of 14 years, Hutson said Thursday that the sign has become a symbol for her entire family. She even asked a friend to build her an 8-foot version out of plywood so that her family could have a copy for the house. She said her two sons, 6 and 3 years old, always point out the sign when they pass it on the highway.

“I mean, this is the submarine capital of the world,” Hutson said. “The first submarine base. It's exciting. I mean — this is it.”

Legislators and local residents strongly denounced an anti-war sentiment that was scrawled across the sign, which is off Exit 85 of I-95 North, sometime late Wednesday night. They vowed to repaint the sign themselves, if necessary.

The 40-foot-long sign was erected in 2004 with the help of local sailors, veterans, welders and designers, and replaced a familiar Lafayette-class hull on the hillside, which had been there for 40 years. The sign, a one-eighth scale silhouette of the USS Nautilus, with the words “Groton: Submarine Capital of the World” written across it, was painted yellow and covered with an obscenity and anti-war slogan.

“We respect those who express anti-war sentiments through legitimate, lawful means like letters and public protests, speeches and rallies,” said U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District. “But the vulgar desecration of public symbols is crossing the line.”

He called Groton's submarines a powerful symbol that deters rather than promotes war and called for the vandals to be “brought to justice.”

State Sen. Cathy Cook, R-Groton, and state Rep. Lenny Winkler, R-Groton, promised to work with the Navy League and other community volunteers to repaint the sign.

“We will be out there with our paint brushes as soon as possible,” Winker said. “This sign cannot be restored quickly enough to suit our community.”

Legislators, residents and local officials who fought to keep the Naval Submarine Base in Groton open throughout the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission process last year often touted Groton's status as “Submarine Capital of the World” in their pleas to keep the base open.

To Groton, the sign has long been a symbol of pride in a community that includes the submarine base and sub designer and builder Electric Boat.

“Our community has earned its reputation as the submarine capital,” said Cook, “... and it continues to be home to men and women — and families — who make tremendous sacrifices to serve our country. We love having them in our community, and we embrace Navy families as our own. The vandalism is an insult to all of us.”

Cook said she was “horrified” when she saw the sign Thursday morning.

Hutson, who works as a front desk clerk at the Navy Lodge on the submarine base, which caters mostly to Navy and families of Navy personnel, said she was “disgusted” when she heard the news. The sign is the first thing Navy families see when they arrive in Groton, Hutson said, and does more than simply denote a geographic location.

“It's dishonest and dishonorable to our servicemen,” Hutson said of the vandalism. “... You know, there are other ways to make statements.”

State police are investigating the vandalism and ask anyone with information to contact them at Troop E in Montville at 848-6500.