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    My Roots are Getting Deep: Jim Ellis Retires, Plans to Stay in Area

    My Roots are Getting Deep: Jim Ellis Retires, Plans to Stay in Area

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Tristan Lotz | 210602-N-ME396-1022 GROTON, Conn. (June 2, 2021) Jim Ellis poses for a photo in the...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tristan Lotz 

    Subase New London

    GROTON, Conn. - The long-time director of Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London’s Unaccompanied Housing (UH) and former general manager of the Navy Gateway Inn & Suites (NGIS) will retire on June 25.

    “I joined the Navy in ’77, had my first tour of duty in Norfolk on a fast boat there, then went to ‘C’ school in ’83, came to Groton and never left,” said Jim Ellis.

    A native of Plainville, Massachusetts, Ellis first came to SUBASE New London as a Mess Management Specialist (MS), the predecessor to today’s Culinary Specialist (CS) rating, in 1983. Thanks to the unique billeting opportunities open to his rating, Ellis was able to stay, change commands, and grow in his career and personal life.

    “I was homesteading very early on in my career,” said Ellis of planting his roots in Groton. “There were enough jobs here for an MS to go from sea duty to shore duty, and back and forth.”

    Ellis’s commands included USS Albuquerque (SSN 706), Naval Submarine School (SUBSCOL), Submarine Squadron 12 and USS Seawolf (SSN 21). His final command was supervising the base’s UH program, a job he kept when he retired from military service in 2002.

    “I am a retired Senior Chief Mess [Management] Specialist,” said Ellis. “At the time I was the senior enlisted leader at unaccompanied housing, the commander who oversaw it retired and they made it a civilian position. I applied for the job and was lucky enough to get it. So I put in my retirement paperwork, retired on Friday, and came back Monday as ‘Jim.’ The only change was not wearing a uniform and answering the phone incorrectly for about six months. I didn’t change anything else; office or duties. It was a seamless transition.”

    During his tenure at SUBASE New London, Ellis had charge over the base’s barracks buildings which house thousands of Sailors assigned to SUBASE New London, SUBSCOL, and the base’s submarines. As the NGIS general manager, he was in charge of the base’s “hotel” supporting the visitors who came to the base.

    A command priority of the Commanding Officer of SUBASE New London, Capt. Todd Moore, has been one of Ellis’ aspirations since arriving in Groton back in 1983: making the base and community a better place to live and work.

    With the NGIS’ 82 rooms and two executive suites for visiting admirals, and the Unaccompanied Housing program’s barracks supporting beds for some 2,000 Sailors, Ellis has been the driving force behind improving quality of life with many hospitality transformations on the base.

    For visitors, he helped lead the comprehensive renovation of Building 429 to become the new O’Kane Hall with NGIS, Clubs, and a Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) branch.

    “Building 429 [O’Kane Hall] was renovated in 2009,” said Ellis. “It hosts the NGIS, the NFCU, The Fouled Anchor and The Dive. This allowed the base to demolish 6 Buildings - Building 442, 447, 379, D, M, as well the old NFCU. With these services all under one roof, I think it’s a great benefit to visitors and base personnel alike.”

    For Sailors, he oversaw many large scale barracks renovations including new furniture and improved ventilation in the rooms. Some of the improvements, such as repainting walls and replacing carpet, were done by groups of junior Sailors overseen by senior leadership, called Tiger Teams.

    “I can’t say enough good things about those Tiger Teams. We created them to help Public Works spruce up the barracks between complete building renovations, which are about 15-20 years apart,” said Ellis. “They are able to paint, do minor drywalling, and complete hundreds of minor maintenance jobs.”

    A bittersweet element of Ellis’ transformational efforts will impact submarine crew barracks residents going on deployment.

    “We’ve done great work on barracks renovations and are in the homestretch but there are a few minor hurdles,” noted Ellis. “With barracks and rooms coming off line to complete updates, and with a recent surge in SUBSCOL students, we’re tight on space. Sadly, this will mean that submarine Sailors going on deployment will not be able to lock their doors and keep their rooms as-is. They’ll have to pack their belongings and check-out. I know that will be tough, but hopefully they’ll be won over when they return to new, updated rooms and barracks.”

    Deploying, seeing the world, is why many in his barracks join the Navy, admits Ellis; so why would he want to stay in one area? His answer was family in 1983 and 2002, and it remains family to this day.

    “Back then, I didn’t want to take the family away from their grandparents,” said Ellis. “That’s why I got here in ’83 and never left. Now it’s come full circle because my grandchildren are here! I’m not going to Florida or anything, I’m staying here in good old New England and [going to] get old here. My daughter was born up at the clinic when it was a full hospital. Now she’s 35 years old and a Groton City police officer. My roots are getting deep!”



    Date Taken: 06.16.2021
    Date Posted: 06.16.2021 11:41
    Story ID: 399053
    Location: GROTON, CT, US 
    Hometown: GALES FERRY, CT, US
    Hometown: PLAINVILLE, MA, US

    Web Views: 546
    Downloads: 0