Monday, May 11, 2009

USS Florida Returns from Maiden SSGN Deployment

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- Naval Submarine Kings Bay welcomed USS Florida (SSGN 728) (Gold) home from its maiden deployment as a guided missile submarine to May 8.

Florida is the first ever Atlantic Fleet Ohio-class SSGN to be forwarded deployed. Florida began its maiden deployment on April 26, 2008 and the arrival of Florida marked the first time the submarine returned to its homeport in 13-months.

Florida has two crews, Blue and Gold, which alternated manning the submarines while on deployment. Each crew completed two deployment periods, swapping crews in Diego Garcia.

Florida achieved a number of milestones for a SSGN, including the first transit of the Suez Canal and visits to Gibraltar, Jebel Ali, Souda Bay, and Diego Garcia.

Florida Gold chief of the boat, Command Master Chief Randy Huckaba, commented on the significance of port visits, including the three-day port call in Souda Bay, which is the first time a submarine that size visited the port.

With the new forward deployed mission of the SSGN, Sailors have the ability to communicate with their families more frequently.

"We do not have the communications restrictions that other platforms have and we do have the latest technology, with the ability to send and receive emails," said Capt. Randy Crites, commanding officer Florida Blue.

Florida conducted operations in the 5th and 6th fleets area of responsibilities. Their missions comprised mostly of littoral operations.

"We put a lot of hard work into what we did," said Huckaba. "I'm very proud of the crew. They are an incredible crew, top-notch."

Florida is the first submarine and the sixth United States Navy ship to bear the name of the state. Florida is the second submarine to complete the conversion from a ballistic missile submarine to a guided missile submarine, completing the conversion in 2006.