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USS Cincinnati Cold War-era memorial will set sail in Butler County

artist rendering of a submarine with plaza surrounding and lake beside it.
An artist rendering of the USS Cincinnati Cold War Memorial & Peace Pavilion.

A project in the works for more than two decades may finally be setting sail. Construction on a Cold War-era memorial featuring the conning tower, or sail, from the former USS Cincinnati submarine is scheduled to begin in about a month in West Chester's Voice of America MetroPark.

The USS Cincinnati Cold War memorial & Peace Pavilion was formally unveiled Monday by the Cincinnati Navy League. It's slated to open in spring 2025.

"That year is the 125th anniversary of the U.S. Navy submarines. It's also the 250th anniversary of the United States Navy, and the following year, 2026, will be the 250th anniversary of our country," says Navy veteran Joseph Japp, who envisioned the project. "We hope that memorial arrives, riding this wave of patriotism."

The USS Cincinnati was a Los Angeles class nuclear submarine that was commissioned in 1978 and decommissioned in 1996.

RELATED: County still looking for place to build submarine memorial

The memorial has been planned since the mid-2000s. A group headed by Japp, with support from the late Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, acquired the tower-like structure that sat on top of the sub from the Navy in 2013. Organizers had initially hoped to build the memorial somewhere on Cincinnati's central riverfront along the Ohio River.

It will now be built near the VOA Park soccer fields along Tylersville Road near the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting. The design calls for recreating the experience of seeing a submarine in dry dock.

"The memorial will be full-size," says Japp. It will be "360-feet long — it's as long as goalpost to goalpost on a football field — and from the bottom of the keel to the top of the sail is about five stories. The diameter of that hull is about 33 feet."

It will include about 100 tons of material from the former submarine. Along with the conning tower, the group acquired the rudder, which is about 17-feet tall and 13-feet wide, and the back-up diesel engine, which was painted red and referred to as the "Big Red Machine" in homage to the Reds' baseball team lineup in the '70s.

RELATED: Where should USS Cincinnati Cold War memorial be placed?

The Navy League plans to call for a major educational component to the memorial, focusing on history and STEM elements directed at children. Since the memorial and pavilion will be built next to the soccer fields, they anticipate large numbers of young visitors, especially during tournament seasons.

You can see additional renderings at

"We have (7,000) or 8,000 kids during the summer every weekend who are going to be playing over here," explains Bob Viney, a member of the Submarine Cincinnati Memorial Association. "Many will have a tournament at 10 (in the morning) and a tournament at three. And what are they going to do in between time? Well, we're going to provide a unique educational opportunity that we hope will amaze them and get them interested in learning more about the science, technology, engineering and math behind it."

Artist renderings of the memorial depict a splash pad in the bow of the sub, a periscope stand, a viewing pier, and seating under the "hull."

The Navy League has raised about $6 million in private funds for the memorial. It's working with the Northern Cincinnati Foundation, which reports it has about $1.5 million left to raise toward the project and an accompanying endowment.

submarine sail sits on a flatbed trailer
USS Cincinnati Cold War Memorial Project
The sail of the USS Cincinnati prepares to make it's way to Ohio in 2013.

USS Cincinnati history

Five Navy vessels have carried the name "Cincinnati." The most recent, commissioned in October 2019, is an Independence-variant littoral combat ship. As WVXU previously reported, the ship includes two LM2500 marine gas turbine engines built at GE Aviation in Evendale. "Each LM2500 engine produces over 29,500 horsepower, propelling the ship to speeds in excess of 40 knots, or 46 miles per hour," GE says.

RELATED: USS Cincinnati Arrives Home At San Diego

The other four (plus one USS Queen City) include:

(Information courtesy of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati.)

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.