A Tale of Determination: The Last Components of the 658 Come Home
With the demise of the Soviet Union bringing an end to the Cold War, the Navy's mission regarding the role of the fleet ballistic missile submarines changed and many 'boomers' built in the 1960s were decommissioned and dismantled. In 1995, after its final voyage that included a stop at Mare Island, the USS Mariano G Vallejo SSBN 658 succumbed to the cutting torches at Bremerton, Washington.
During this time some leaders in Vallejo approached the Navy about obtaining the entire 658 boat; they asked Ken Zadwick, then president of the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum, to lead this effort. Senator Barbara Boxer managed to get the Navy to delay its plan to break up the Vallejo. The Navy appeared willing to turn it over, but with a $10 million pricetag payable in two weeks. Needless to say the deal had no takers. This together with a
previous Navy offer to selll parts of the 658 for prices ranging from $150,000 to $350,000 each seemed to put an end to any notion of bringing something of the USS Vallejo back to its birthplace.
Zadwick continued to chat this up in Washington, talking with Congressmen and Senators, meeting with defense-related Congressional committees. CNN picked up the story too, and a Washington Post reporter whose father had served at Mare Island Naval Shipyard wrote a story about this frustrating situation. The day following publication of the Post article, Zadwick received a call from the Navy offering to fly him, the mayor of Vallejo, and members of the Navy Yard Association to Bremerton, Washington, to pick out components of the 658 that would later be shipped to Vallejo.
And that is how the 658's control room elements, 3 periscopes, an anchor chain, and its 65-ton sail with dive planes were saved from the vessel recycling program. All of these artifacts from the 658 are now on display in or near the Mare Island Museum.