The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Washington (SSN 787) returned to its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk after successfully completing a scheduled deployment, Sunday, Feb. 27.
Under the command of Cmdr. Eric Astle, Washington returns from a deployment where it executed the chief of naval operation's maritime strategy by supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.
“I’m incredibly proud of the crew,” said Astle. “Their persistence and enthusiasm in executing 192 days of sustained operations with a 92 percent operational tempo is just incredible. The team covered more ground than I could have imagined, transiting over 37,000 nautical miles, meeting complex mission assignments and fixing every material challenge the boat threw their way. It’s hard work to do such a tough job for so long with limited contact with family and friends, but the team never wavered in their commitment to the mission.”
Command Master Chief Charles Generals, Washington’s chief of the boat, also spoke highly of the boat’s crew and their ability to tackle challenges while deployed.
“We really have an amazing crew aboard Washington,” said Generals. “No matter the challenge they faced on deployment, they were all more than happy to step up and resolve it quickly and safely.”
The importance of teamwork in Washington’s successful deployment was also highlighted by Astle as he spoke on the groups and individuals who helped Washington along the way.
“Washington would not have been successful without the crew’s high energy and support of each other,” said Astle. “Every deployment has its share of curve balls, and the team really pulled together, got innovative when necessary, and made sure we were trained, equipped, and ready for
every mission that came our way. We also would not have succeeded with the strength of our families and the support network at home sustained by our ombudsman, Mrs. Hilary Liebel, our Family Readiness Group, led by Mrs. Jenna White, and the shoreside support by Submarine Squadron Six and CTF 69.”
Washington arrived at Naval Station Norfolk to the greeting of friends and family members who showed their support with cheers and handmade welcome home signs.
During the deployment, Washington Sailors had the opportunity to experience life in Arctic circle during the time of year when the sun doesn’t rise.
The crew also supported diplomatic relationships by conducting port visits in Haakensvern, Norway; Tromso, Norway; Faslane, Scotland; and Brest, France.
Thirty-six enlisted Sailors and five officers earned their submarine warfare qualification, known as ‘dolphins,’ 17 Sailors were advanced to the next paygrade, one officer was promoted, and five Sailors reenlisted.
The Virginia-class, also known as the VA-class or 774-class, is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines in service with the U.S. Navy. The submarines are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions. They were conceived as a less expensive alternative to the Seawolf-class attack submarines, designed during the Cold War era, and are replacing older Los Angeles-class submarines.
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.
The Virginia-class submarine is 377 feet long and 34 feet wide, and weighs about 7,900 tons when submerged. Underwater, it can reach speeds in excess of 25 knots.