Valuable Artifacts From Historic U.S.S. New Mexico to be Placed in New Vessell of Same Name

New Mexico History Museum donates historic sterling-silver pieces to new submarine

By: By Deanna Ting

The brand-new submarine, the U.S.S. New Mexico (SSN 779), which will undergo her commissioning ceremony on March 27 in Norfolk, Va., will carry a piece of history from her former battleship predecessor, the U.S.S. New Mexico (BB-40), thanks to a donation from the New Mexico History Museum.

The new Virginia-class submarine will display two silver dessert plates that were originally commissioned by the New Mexico State Senate in 1917 in commemoration of the debut of the U.S.S. New Mexico battleship. The plates are part of a 56-piece sterling-silver set created by Tiffany & Co. in New York. Pieces to be featured on the new submarine depict an engraving of Taos Pueblo and that of a stagecoach riding into Santa Fe Plaza.

During World War II, the U.S.S. New Mexico played a pivotal role in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. It was eventually decommissioned in 1946.

“The second naming of a warship after the state of New Mexico is a great honor and a salute to the battleship New Mexico and her remarkable 30-year legacy in U.S. Naval history,” said Michael Cerletti, secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department. “We are also thrilled [the new U.S.S. New Mexico] will carry with her reminders of New Mexico’s past as we celebrate both past and future with our upcoming 2012 centennial of statehood.”

Cerletti, along with New Mexico state senators Tim Jennings and William Payne, as well as Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum, plan to attend the commission ceremony on March 27.

“The U.S.S. New Mexico is a prominent touchstone in New Mexico history,” Levine said. “The ship was the setting of dramatic and poignant events, told in the New Mexico History Museum through diary entries, letters and photographs. We are pleased to participate in the commissioning ceremony and that the history of our state will be a reference point through the loan of these two irreplaceable Tiffany silver plates.”

Other pieces from the Tiffany collection of silverware are on exhibit in the World War II section of the museum’s core exhibition, “Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now.” The pieces also include a humidor in the shape of Taos Pueblo.

New Mexico History Museum