Commissioners send off new sub with cuisine from local eatery

Displaying the famous tenderloin sandwiches of Nick’s Kitchen, Huntington County Commissioners lead the effort to send 150 tenderloins to the USS Indiana submarine (SSN789) to celebrate the sub’s entry into active service. Pictured are (from left) Commissioners Larry Buzzard and Tom Wall; Nick’s Kitchen owner Jean Anne Bailey; Julia Surber, of VS Engineering; and Commissioner Rob Miller.
Displaying the famous tenderloin sandwiches of Nick’s Kitchen, Huntington County Commissioners lead the effort to send 150 tenderloins to the USS Indiana submarine (SSN789) to celebrate the sub’s entry into active service. Pictured are (from left) Commissioners Larry Buzzard and Tom Wall; Nick’s Kitchen owner Jean Anne Bailey; Julia Surber, of VS Engineering; and Commissioner Rob Miller. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Members of the newly launched USS Indiana will enjoy some northern Hoosier hospitality when they dine on hand-breaded tenderloins from Huntington’s Nick’s Kitchen, compliments of Huntington County’s commissioners.

A ceremony marking the Virginia-class nuclear submarine’s entry into active service in the U.S. Navy was held Sept. 29, in Port Canaveral, FL, and each of the Hoosier state’s 92 counties sponsored its commission.

“They (military officials) were at the commissioners’ conference last year and they were asking for sponsors for all 92 counties to contribute to the project in some way, some form, some fashion, to commemorate something on the ship from each county,” explains Larry Buzzard, president of the commissioners.

Each of the counties gifted the submarine and its crew with something unique. For Huntington County, the commissioners decided to send 150 of Nick’s Kitchen’s finest tenderloins, fixed up by Nick’s owner, Jean Anne Bailey.

“Jean Anne’s going to pound out the tenderloins, bread them, package them and we’re going to ship them out to Groton, CT – that’s where they’re based – and they’re going to prepare them for the crew,” adds Commissioner Rob Miller. “Our Hoosier hospitality is something really unique. If you go to a lot of different areas in the United States, breaded tenderloins are a novelty. It’s really an Indiana, Midwestern thing.”

Commissioner Tom Wall says the crew wanted something from Huntington County they could enjoy on the ship when it was first commissioned. They checked out the county historical museum for something that would be fitting, but couldn’t come up with a donation that seemed appropriate.

Miller met the ship’s chef, CSSC (SS) Stephan Ross Edwards, and asked him what he thought about receiving 150 of the dinner-plate-sized tenderloins.

“When Rob was there for the commissioning, we thought, what better way for them to remember Huntington, Indiana, than if we sent them our famous tenderloin sandwiches from the famous Nick’s Kitchen in downtown Huntington and ship them there,” Wall says. “Rob worked it out with the chef while he was there on how to prepare them, and how to get them shipped, and worked it out with Jean Anne. He brought this back to us and we just thought it was a great idea.”

Bailey has shipped the popular tenderloins – of which Nick’s boasts of being the home of the Breaded Pork Tenderloin – around the globe. Her predecessor, Nick Freienstein, is credited with inventing the oversized sandwich. Bailey makes the sandwiches with the same recipe Freienstein himself used and will ship the frozen tenderloins to the USS Indiana, where the chef will cook them and serve the completed sandwiches to the crew. Bailey says she’s excited to be part of the project.

“I feel honored, for one thing, to be chosen to do it,” she says. “I just think it’s a great project. It gives people on the East Coast a taste of Indiana, and that’s the breaded pork tenderloin. I’m just sorry we can’t send sugar cream pies to them.”

VS Engineering, a Hoosier-owned and operated professional engineering consulting firm that has a location in Fort Wayne, offered to pay for the shipping costs.

“I think’s it’s a great cause, and Larry, Tom and Rob bringing that to me is an opportunity,” says Julia Surber, project developer at VS Engineering. “We’re happy to help and happy to be a part of it.”

Buzzard adds the commissioners will also likely send something else to the crew, such as a commemorative coin.

The USS Indiana (SSN 789) is the third vessel to carry the Indiana name. The first was the USS Indiana (BB-1), which was the first battleship of its class built in 1891 and served in the Spanish-American War. The second was the USS Indiana (BB-58), a South Dakota battleship built in 1939, which served in World War II.

More than 100 Indiana vendors were an integral part in the construction of the ship. Raytheon and Rolls Royce in Indianapolis, steel mills in Burns Harbor and caterpillar in Lafayette provided necessary components. Additionally, the three nuclear physicists who brought the ship’s nuclear reactor online were graduates of Purdue University. The crest of the submarine was designed by Indiana native Jason Watson and bears the motto from the Indianapolis Soldiers and Sailors monument, “Silent Victors.” This phrase has a twofold meaning for the ship, as it pays tribute to Indiana’s soldiers and sailors while recognizing the United States Submarine Force, which is known as the “silent service.”

All sailors aboard the ship are referred to as “Hoosiers.” The official ship chant is, “Indiana Strong! Hoosier Proud! Hooyah Hoosiers!”