Pearl Harbor welcomes USS Buffalo

(Left) The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715) arrive at her new homeport Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Jan. 18.  (Right) Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kekoa Ulep of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715) hugs his mom Rose Silva, following the arrival of the submarine at her new homeport at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

(Left) The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715) arrive at her new homeport Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Jan. 18.
(Right) Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kekoa Ulep of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715) hugs his mom Rose Silva, following the arrival of the submarine at her new homeport at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Story and photos by MC2 Steven Khor

Commander Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Office

It was a clear sunny day at Pearl Harbor, with performers from the Polynesian Cultural Center dancing, the Pacific Fleet band playing tunes, and families and friends with lei in their hands, as the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715) arrived at her new home-port, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, on Jan. 18. Buffalo just completed a homeport shift from Commander, Submarine Squadron 15 in Guam.

Buffalo, nicknamed “Silent Thunder,” departed Jan. 11 from Guam. At Pearl Harbor, she will be assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron One.

“My crew and I couldn’t be more excited about Buffalo’s change of home-port to Pearl Harbor,” said Cmdr. Richard Seif, commanding officer of Buffalo. “My Sailors and families have heard so many great things about the islands, and we are looking forward to experiencing Hawaii’s world famous spirit of aloha.”

With only two families left to move, their arrival in Hawaii in the next few weeks will complete the move from Guam.

Seif said Buffalo’s change of homeport has been a real team effort that began almost a year ago. He said that Buffalo’s Sailors had a lot of lessons learned from the USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) and USS Houston (SSN 713) who made the move to Hawaii from Guam previously.

He also expressed his appreciation for the support he and his crew have received from Commander Submarine Squadron One, Naval Submarine Support Command, the housing office and the personnel support detachment staffs from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam because they made the move easy for the crew.

“It was a little hard to move here at first, but the people are very kind, so it was OK,” said Paige Suh, a Buffalo spouse.

For Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kekoa Ulep, Hawaii is home. The Hawaii native had been smiling continuously since the crew got underway from Guam, and he entertained the crew with his ukulele. Ulep is very excited to see his family and go back to his church.

“It feels great to be here. I really miss my ohana or “family,” and it’s a very overwhelming feeling. I love it,” Ulep said.

USS Buffalo is the second ship to be named after Buffalo, N.Y. and is built to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; project power ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and special operation forces; carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions; support battle group operations; and engage in mine warfare.

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