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I have a question for you. Most of us reading this have served on at least one submarine during Cold War, the Bates, and many have served on six, eight, and even more during their Navy careers. The question, which I’ll answer somewhere later in this post, is “How many submarines of the U.S. Navy were in service during the Cold War?”

For sake of argument, I’ll propose that the Cold War ran roughly between the end of WW II until the fall of the Soviet Union. Call it the beginning of 1946 through the end of 1991, and the boat must have been in commission at some point during that time.

Now hold on to your answer and your hats, because there is something I need to tell you.

It has been six years since the last major overhaul for our beloved Bates website, www.ssn-680.org, back in 2014. It has continued to evolve and has accumulated a whole boatload of new photos, sea stories, SSN 680 artifacts, and hundreds of original NAVPERS documents, along with hundreds of thousands of visits by former Bates shipmates, their families and friends, and others.

But six years in internet years makes the 680 website about 60 internet years old, and it’s not going to keep going for ever. As early as March of last year, we found ourselves running into limitations that date back to the original design choices, and we rapidly reached the point where action was necessary to continue to allow the site to grow and adapt to the needs and desires of you, the ultimate end users.

While I was wrestling with decisions regarding the future design of the new Bates website, I was also entertaining phone calls and emails from other submarine sailors that didn’t serve on the Billy B. who were asking the question “How do we get a site like ssn-680.org for our boat?”

There was no simple answer for that. The Bates website has taken years of work, and short of winning the lottery, there was no viable way for me to speed up that process. But then I got to thinking, what if I was able to simplifying the cloning of the Bates website by combining all the sites into one large site? Surely it would be a lot faster and easier?

That turned out to be a flawed assumption, or at least substantially underestimated, as I’m sure my charming, patient, and tolerant wife Margaret will confirm, but that is not the point here.

Since the middle of last year, in an effort to prepare for the unavoidable demise of the existing Bates website and accommodate the possibility of websites for all boats, I have thrown myself into the development of a new, widely expanded website that opens the way forward and preserves everything on the current Bates site and includes every boat that served in the Cold War. The result of my effort can be found at www.coldwarboats.org.

So, five points. There are more, but I’ll follow up with those later.

cwb invitation 02First, each of you that are currently registered on the www.ssn-680.org website (680) are invited (and compelled) to visit and explore the Cold War Boats (CWB) website. While it is still not ready for new registrations, your 680 user profile has been pre-installed in the CWB site, and your existing 680 user name and password should work to get you past the login screen. If it doesn’t simply reset your Cold War Boat password - your www.ssn-680.org password will not be affected.

Don’t bother trying to access it from your smartphone or small screen tablet - we haven’t done any work on the mobile version yet. It won’t be usable, though it might be entertaining.

Second, please comment and provide feedback. It is still under development and testing and there are months of work ahead. Every comment or critique you can provide will be helpful.

There are Pre-Comm Comment articles on each boat’s Quarterdeck page. If you visit a boat page on the site (besides the 680) please leave a comment, if only to say “I was here”. I can tally the comments and decide which boat is currently visited the most, and move it to the top of the list for completion.

As usual, if something doesn’t work like you expect, submit a Help Request under the Watch, Quarter, and Station Bill menu on the right side of almost every page. At the very least, leave a comment or two.

Third, if you have photos or artifacts to submit, don’t wait another minute - get them to me, post them yourselves, or at least ask me what to do next.

With last week's shutdown of the Facebook group Submarine Sailors, it was reported by one admin that close to 10K photographs were lost, and would need to be reposted. Facebook has shown no interest in preserving your photos, but Cold War Boats is all about preserving photos and stories.

Fourth, don’t despair the eventual inactivation of the www.ssn-680.org website. Like the boats we served on, nothing lasts forever. Rest assured however, that everything on the old site, including your comments, photos, forum posts and more has already been moved into the CWB site. One of my criteria for the new site was that nothing would be lost from www.ssn-680.org. It just may be a while before it is all up there!

Fifth, start talking it up with your shipmates. While CWB won’t be ready for new registrations for a few months, the more press we can get, the better. Let your other shipmates know.

Even now, CWB lists every US Cold War submarine, and has a basic website in place for each. When complete, Cold War Boats will include a full website for each boat that served between 28 FEB 1946 and 26 DEC 1991.

All 384 of them. You heard me right. At least 384 Cold War boats. Three hundred and eighty four, plus deep submergence research, support ships and facilities.

I hope that confirms your answer!

It is a tall order, but it Cold War Boats is well underway. When we open the site for registration, each user will be able to register once and be listed on each of the sites for each boat he served on. And that is just the beginning.

Take a look, and let me know what you think.

Remember, there is not a moment to lose!

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© 2020 Brad Williamson
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USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) Association
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