Groton — At 377 feet long, the nuclear-powered attack submarine that made its way up the Thames River Friday afternoon dwarfed those that came nearly 100 years before it.
Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the first submarines to arrive at the submarine base, and Navy and local officials gathered Friday at one of the many piers where submarines dock at the base to commemorate that anniversary and kick off a yearlong celebration of submarines.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has designated October 2015 through October 2016 as the celebration of "Connecticut's Submarine Century."
The USS California, a Virginia-class submarine back from a month-long operation, served as a symbolic re-enactment of the arrival of the first submarines to be homeported in Groton in 1915.
On Oct. 18, 1915, the submarines G-1, G-2 and G-4 under the care of the tender USS Ozark arrived at the sub base. Then the submarines E-1, D-1, and D-3 with the tender USS Tonopah arrived, bolstering the small force.
"From these seeds would sprout the nation's first submarine base," Capt. Carl Lahti, commanding officer at the base, said in his remarks.
Today, 15 nuclear-powered submarines are homeported at the base, according to Lahti.
The Naval Submarine School, where nearly all the Navy's submariners pass through, is also celebrating its 100th birthday.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., was one of several special guests who embarked on the California as it made its way to the pier.
"What a ride, really a highlight of my first three years in the United States Senate representing southeastern Connecticut to get to ride into port with Commander (Eric) Sager and his very capable crew," a visibly giddy Murphy said.