Under the command of Cmdr. Jeffrey E. Lamphear, the submarine is returning from the European Command, Central Command and Pacific Command Areas of Responsibility, where it executed the nation's maritime strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.
"Congratulations to the fine crew of USS Helena for an exceptional deployment," said Vice Adm. Michael Connor, commander, Submarine Forces. "I could not be more pleased with Helena's superb execution of missions vital to national security in the Central Command and other areas of operation. Cmdr. Lamphear's crew demonstrated outstanding determination, agility and resiliency. Helena's unflinching ability to respond to all tasking was a true test of a well-prepared high performance warship. Welcome back home to well-deserved reunion with family and friends. A grateful nation is thankful for the sacrifices made by the Helena crew. You set the example for the fleet - well done!"
Lamphear expanded on the submarine's mission accomplishment during the deployment.
"Our operations spanned three gulfs, two seas and two oceans while conducting exercises with coalition partners and other U.S. forces," said Lamphear. "Our operations supported multinational, U.S. national and theater strategic and tactical objectives. The operations demonstrated the U.S submarine force's ability to maintain an extended presence and execute any of our multiple missions, while remaining undetected in any area accessible from the world's oceans."
During the deployment Helena steamed more than 50,000 nautical miles, which is equivalent to circumnavigating the Earth twice along the equator. They did get the opportunity to enjoy some down time.
"We were able to conduct port visits in Bahrain, Diego Garcia, Greece, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates," said Lamphear. "We had an opportunity to experience different cultures and enjoy the different cuisines each presented. While in port the crew was outstanding ambassadors for the United States and while at sea their performance was even more outstanding.
"The Helena crew demonstrated the high level of moral, professionalism, and technical and tactical excellence that characterizes the U.S. submarine force. Operating in some of the most navigationally-constrained areas with the highest shipping densities in the world, they demonstrated our ability to execute multiple missions in seas and oceans spanning the globe. Also, they demonstrated the force's flexibility by planning and executing a complex mission we did not specifically plan for and in an area we did not plan to go. We overcame hardships, material failures, and challenging environments to execute our missions, further demonstrating the submarine force's endurance by operating at sea for long periods without external material support.
"There were also some significant personal achievements during the deployment. Sixteen enlisted and three officers earned their submarine warfare qualifications, can wear the coveted and elite dolphins. In addition, we had 25 junior enlisted, six chief petty officers, and seven officers promoted or advanced to their current ranks. I could not be prouder of their accomplishments."
Despite all the professional and personal achievements, they are glad to be returning home.
"We are very happy to be back in Norfolk with our friends and loved ones," said Lamphear. "We will enjoy a very well-deserved break and the quality time we will be able to spend with our families. Afterwards, we will be back to work training new crew members and ensuring Helena is in top material condition to maintain our readiness for deployment worldwide in supporting our country's defense."
Fast-attack submarines like Helena have multi-faceted missions. They use their stealth, persistence, agility and firepower to deploy and support special force operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary's military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity, and ensure undersea superiority.
Helena is the 38th Los Angeles-class attack submarine and fourth ship to bear the name of the capital city, Helena, Mont. The submarine was built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, Conn., and commissioned July 11, 1987. The 360-foot ship has a current crew compliment of 15 officers and 129 enlisted Sailors, and displaces more than 7,100 tons of water.