Thank you for visiting our website and learning more about the 786 Club. The first thing you might wonder about is the name. What’s the significance of “786” in the Club’s name? 786 is the hull number of the boat. The boat’s full name is, USS ILLINOIS (SSN 786). All caps in the name is important and SSN stands for Submersible Ship Nuclear. This is the Navy’s designation for a general purpose, attack submarine.

How did the 786 Club come into being?

There is actually some “pedigree” and “precedence” to the Club’s history.  The 786 Club stands on the shoulders of the 721 Club and the USS ILLINOIS Commissioning Committee.  The 721 Club was formed by the Union League Club of Chicago in 1986 and has been supporting the USS CHICAGO (SSN 721) for over 30 years.  The USS ILLINOIS Commissioning Committee worked for three years preparing and executing the commissioning of the USS ILLINOIS.  During that time, the Committee formed close relationships with the crew and family members.  It was not only natural, but it was planned that the Commissioning Committee would transform into the 786 Club in the mold of the 721 Club and operate with the Union League Club of Chicago as a parent organization.

We are an all civilian and all volunteer organization.  Our 501(c)(3) status comes from the Armed Forces Council of Chicago.  At present, the 786 Club comprises about 150 dues paying members, 5 Club officers who manage day-to-day activities and a 5 member board of directors that provide oversight and guidance.  The Union League Club of Chicago is our legal address and we use the ULCC facilities for meeting and activity venues.  The Union League Club’s Public Affairs Officer participates in our board and members meetings and, is an important liaison between the organizations.

The 786 Club holds quarterly members’ luncheons (non-club members are welcome) and we’ve been very fortunate to have outstanding guest speakers from the Navy; Admirals, Commodores, Captains and Chiefs Of The Boat have all been very generous with their time and expertise; and they keep us updated on the boat’s and the Navy’s activities.

The 786 Club’s Vision statement is, “A lifetime alliance between crew and citizens.”  We think we’re off to a pretty good start building this alliance.  Our relationships with the Wardroom, the Squadron and the FRG (Family Readiness Group) are close and that keeps us “in tune” with what’s going on 4,000 miles away.  Members have made two Club visits to the boat and started a tradition of on-going support and activities with the crew.

We’re two years into our 30+ years mission.  We’re very thankful for the committed members already in our Club and we’d be honored to have you join us.

The Origin of the Submarine Service Insignia Dolphins

The origin of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Service insignia dates back to 1912. On June 13 of that year, Captain Ernest J. King, later to become Fleet Admiral and Chief of Naval Operations during World War II, and at that time Commander Submarine Division Three, suggested to the Secretary of the Navy, via the Bureau of Navigation (now BUPERS), that a distinguishing device for qualified Submariners be adopted. He submitted a pen and ink sketch of his own, showing a shield mounted on the beam-ends of a submarine, with dolphins forward of and abaft, the conning tower. The suggestion was strongly endorsed by Commander Submarine Divisions Atlantic. Various other designs were also considered.

A Philadelphia firm which had done the work for the Navy previously was approached with the request that it undertake to design a suitable badge. Two designs were submitted by the firm and these were combined into a single design. It was the design in use today, a bow view of a submarine proceeding on the surface, with bow planes rigged for diving, flanked by dolphins in horizontal position with their heads resting on the upper edge of the bow planes.

On 20 March 1924, the Chief of Navigation recommended to the Secretary of the Navy that the design be adopted. The recommendation was accepted by Theodore Roosevelt, Acting Secretary of the Navy.

The submarine insignia was to be worn at all times by officers and men qualified in submarine duty attached to submarine units or organizations, ashore or afloat, and not to be worn when not attached.

In 1941, the Uniform Regulations were modified to permit officers and men who were eligible to wear the submarine insignia after they had been assigned to other duties in the naval service unless such right had been revoked.

This information is courtesy of the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II