The Virginia-class submarine USS Indiana (SSN 789) returned from its maiden deployment to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn. September 25, 2020.
Indiana and crew departed Groton just weeks into the early stages of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in America, and apart from two pier-side port visits to Rota Spain, the crew had no contact with the outside world since March.
“Despite the challenges associated with COVID-19, the crew performed exceptionally well and conducted sustained operations at sea while demonstrating their nuclear-powered attack submarine’s endurance and capabilities to accomplish any assigned tasking,” said Capt. Andrew Miller, Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 12 commodore. “It is an extraordinary time in world history and Team Indiana has done a great job of maintaining forward deployed operational readiness amidst a global pandemic for the last six months.”
Indiana deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to execute the chief of naval operation’s maritime strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations. The crew’s two port visits at Naval Station Rota in Spain allowed for some much-deserved rest and relaxation, but despite the difficulties, the crew remained in high spirits.
Master Chief Charles Simonds, Indiana’s Chief of the Boat (COB), said the biggest challenges were keeping the crew motivated and the uncertainty from the pandemic and the impact on families.
“We hoped that our families were going to handle it, and they did exactly that,” Simonds said.
The crew qualified 33 sailors in submarine warfare to earn the coveted “Dolphins,” and over 80 crewmembers (out of 130) were first-time deployers.
Sophath Simonds, wife of the COB, called it one of the hardest deployments, but was happy they were home.
“They get to come back to a different world,” she added. “But they’re resilient, they will adjust and we’ll get through it. Hooyah Indiana!”
Jenna Van Dyck, girlfriend to Indiana crewmember Lt. Luciano Granna, called the deployment a trying time for everyone, “but everybody banded together and came out with more solidarity in the end.”
Indiana was commissioned Sept. 29, 2018 and is the third U.S. warship named after the Hoosier State. It is 377 feet long with a beam of 34 feet and a crew of approximately 130, consisting of 15 officers and 115 enlisted Sailors.
Fast-attack submarines are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence. They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Fast-attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.
Indiana and crew operate under SUBRON 4 one of two SUBRONs based out of Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn. SUBRON 4’s mission is to man, train and equip Sailors assigned to fast attack submarines to ensure that they are combat ready and capable of taking the fight to the enemy. Its submarines are able to bring strength, agility, firepower and endurance to the battle space like no other platform in the U.S. Navy.