Tom Clancy just can't seem to get enough of submarines.
Sunday night, the author of "The Hunt for Red October" was at Loews Annapolis hotel to help raise money to make the city a second home for the families of the crew of the nuclear attack submarine USS Annapolis, now under construction in Groton, Conn.
Clancy was joined by Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, a World War II Navy man, and retired Navy Capt. Kirk Miller, who skippered thethird USS Annapolis, a communications ship.
The USS Annapolis Commemorative Committee hopes "to establish an educational endowment program for the families of Annapolis crew members over the estimated 25- to 30-year life span of the boat," said Gene Zarwell, the marketingdirector for the committee.
"The fund will help the offspring with college expenses, or insurance, if something should happen to crew members, in connection with a mission, or if there are any other problems," added Zarwell.
Zarwell said his goal is to raise about $500,000 to pay for mementos from the city to the submarine and ports of call, and for trips to Groton for the launching.
"We estimate it will cost about $100,000 just for the traditional gifts to the boat, such as a silver service," Zarwell said, "plus whatever else we deem appropriate to the boat."
Around 64 guests paid $100 each for the dinner Sunday night. They were entertained by representatives of the Annapolis Chorale, the Annapolis Symphony, the Annapolis Opera and the Koto Buki Ki Dancers.
There was also "The Search for the USS Annapolis." Guests paid $25 each for special cards with clues to the location of a model of the submarine hidden in the hotel. (It was embedded in the ice sculpture and became more visible as the evening wore on).
Winners received autographed copies of Clancy's book; the grandprize, a trip to Groton for the submarine's launching later this year, was won by Edgar and Darlene Mallick of Arnold.
Clancy also addressed the dinner crowd. He spoke about the gulf war, called for continued support of the military and praised the Annapolis committee forits efforts.
Clancy, whose novel was made into a movie starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, described submarines as "the Navy's version of the concealed weapon."
He criticized proposed defense cutbacks, saying, "You don't get rid of the fire department after the fire's been put out, and you don't fire the cops after the crooks have been caught."
Clancy said, "Peace is the dividend to a judicious investment in the military. And if you take real good care of it, you may not need it at all."
The Annapolis is the fourth naval vessel to bear the city's name. It follows a gunboat from the turn of the century, a World War II frigate and an escort carrier converted to a communications vessel that was retired at the close of the Vietnam War.
It also will be the last submarine launched by the traditional slide into the water. Future submarines, including some now under construction at General Dynamic's Electric Boat Division in Groton, are toolarge for this method and will be launched by flooding the basin in which the boat is constructed.
"God has answered my prayer, to be the mayor at this time when the newest and most advanced attack submarine is named Annapolis," Hopkins said.
Miller, a member of the Naval Academy's class of 1946 and skipper of the most recent Annapolis,recalled the promise made by the captain of the new Annapolis that his ship would be just as good as its predecessor.
"Well, she'll have to go pretty fast and far to do that," Miller joked.
Those wishing to learn more about the activities of the USS Annapolis Commemorative Committee, or take part in its efforts, can contact their offices at 3 Church Circle, Suite 760, Annapolis 21401.