(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photos by MC1 Steven Khor
Submarine Force Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
Family and friends gathered at the submarine piers, Aug. 21, on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to welcome back the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Columbus (SSN 762), following a deployment to the western Pacific region.
Signs, banners and lei welcomed the crew home as family and friends lined up at the pier.
The submarine’s commanding officer, Cmdr. David Youtt, said he is proud of his Sailors and their hard work on deployment.
“Our deployment was extremely successful,” said Youtt. “The crew and ship performed exceptionally, conducting exercises with key allies in the western Pacific and executing national tasking.”
The submarine was forward deployed for six months and was at sea for 85 percent of the time as it steamed more than 30,000 miles.
In addition to gaining the experience of operating in the western Pacific, the deployment afforded Sailors the opportunity to work on qualifications.
Twenty-five Sailors became submarine-qualified and are now able to wear their respective submarine warfare insignia.
“The training and exposure to other cultures was outstanding for our young Sailors,” said Youtt. “Overall, the deployment offered the Columbus crew the opportunity to contribute to our nation’s overall presence in an extremely important region of the world and strengthen important relationships with key allies.”
While on deployment, Columbus’ crew helped strengthen ties with foreign allies in Sasebo, Japan; Yokosuka, Japan; Busan, South Korea and Guam.
Columbus came home to a cheering crowd at the pier with warm aloha.
Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel Teitel had more up his sleeve than the normal returning hug and kiss, as he knelt down in front of the crowd and proposed to girlfriend Sabrina Gunn.
“I didn’t expect it at all, not at all!” said Gunn, referring to the proposal. “Apparently everyone knew except for me! I’m just so surprised but incredibly excited for our future together!”
USS Columbus is the 51st Los Angeles-class submarine and the 12th improved version of this class, which includes a vertical launch system for Tomahawk cruise missiles and an improved hull design for under-ice operations. In June 1994, it completed a post-shipyard maintenance availability in Groton, Conn., after initial construction and shakedown operations. In September 1994, the ship conducted an inter-fleet transfer to Pearl Harbor and joined the U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force.