Saturday, December 12, 2009

USS Key West Returns to Pearl Harbor

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Los Angeles-class fast-attack nuclear powered submarine USS Key West (SSN 772) returned to Naval Station Pearl Harbor Dec. 10 following a six-month deployment to the western Pacific region.

"Key West had a very successful deployment and completed several missions of vital importance, which included a trilateral exercise with the Japanese Maritime Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy," said Cmdr. Robert Koonce, commanding officer, Key West. "The crew was very motivated while conducting these joint forward deployed operations, honing their skills at anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and navigation."

"Deployment is always such a great time for Sailors to accomplish additional watch standing and warfare qualifications, with 14 crew members qualifying to wear the submarine warfare insignia during this deployment," said Koonce. "Many of our junior Sailors were making their first deployment, and this experience will set the foundation for their Navy career."

Key West is the third ship to be named for the Florida city. The contract to build her was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia on August 13, 1981, and her keel was laid down on July 6, 1983. She was launched on July 20, 1985, sponsored by Virginia Conn, and commissioned on Sept. 12, 1987 with Cmdr. Warren Lipscomb Jr. in command.
The ship was the fourth Los Angeles-class submarine equipped with the vertical launch system capable of carrying 12 Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles. Key West completed numerous Cold War deployments and supported operations in the Caribbean, Western Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific regions.