Saturday, March 14, 2009

Family, Friends Celebrate Homecoming of USS Springfield

By Lt. Patrick Evans, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Springfield (SSN 761) returned to Naval Submarine Base New London March 12 to a number of "firsts."

Along with the traditional homecoming first kiss and first hug, there was the first time for a father to see his son in a military uniform.

Chief Machinist's Mate Marcos Alvarado was deployed on Springfield when his son, Mark, went to Navy boot camp last November. Mark was waiting pier side in uniform when his father and the rest of the crew aboard Springfield returned from a regularly scheduled deployment. It was the first time his father saw him in Navy attire.

"I saw him through the periscope as we came in," said Marcos Alvarado of his son. "It was like seeing a newborn kid. I was proud. Not too long ago, he was running around in Pampers. Now he's following in dad's footsteps."

Mark, 19, is set to graduate from submarine school at Submarine Base New London in March. Keeping the submarine tradition in the family was an easy decision for him, he said.

"I'm more comfortable with subs," said the younger Alvarado. "I went on Tiger cruises with my dad. I had dinner on board with my dad. I've been around subs all my life."

That experience, he said, helped other Sailors while he attended submarine school.

"Some other Sailors had no idea about what's on a sub. I told them stories about being around them and stories my dad told me. They seemed to enjoy them," said Mark Alvarado.

Members of the Alvarado family weren't the only people enjoying a warm reunion. Rebecca Bosley was chosen to deliver the first kiss for the event. She and her fiancé, Electrician's Mate 1st Class Steven Bills are engaged to be married March 28. The original date was March 14. They had to reschedule though when his leave time from the boat changed.

"We did a lot of planning through e-mails. I ordered his ring without him seeing it. I really hope it fits," Bosley said.

Springfield made seven port calls during the six-month deployment and took part in couple of firsts, according to Commanding Officer Cmdr. Paul E. Savage.

"We were the first SSN to navigate the southern tip of Africa using full electronic navigation – Voyage Management System (VMS). This validated that we still have the capability for alternative access to the Indian Ocean," said Savage.

"We were the first SSN to pull into Fujairah, UAE, which is a good port for repairs and liberty."

This was a bittersweet homecoming for Savage. This was his last time underway in command of Springfield. His next stop is a staff position at the Pentagon.

"I tried to enjoy every moment and didn't want it to end. I had mixed emotions. I couldn't wait to get back home to family, but the crew came together so well while we were out at sea," said Savage.

Springfield is the fourth U.S. naval ship to be named in honor of the capitol city of Illinois as well as the city in Massachusetts.

With stealth, persistence, agility and firepower, fast-attack submarines like Springfield are multi-mission capable – able to deploy and support special forces operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary's military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity and ensure undersea superiority.