Ho'okele Staff | Aug 31, 2012
Story and photo by
MC1 Ronald Gutridge
Force U.S. Pacific Fleet
Public Affairs Office
Friends and families of the crew from USS Columbus (SSN 762) gathered at the submarine piers Aug. 23 to welcome back the Los Angeles-class submarine as she returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing a six-month deployment to the western Pacific (WEST-PAC) region.
“Columbus’ 2012 deployment was very successful. We executed fleet and national tasking as well as numerous exercises and theater cooperation with our regional allies,” said Cmdr. David Youtt, USS Columbus commanding officer.
“Our crew gained extensive experience operating in vastly different environments and engaging with different cultures. We are a better ship and crew as a result and are better prepared to face future operations,” Youtt said.
While deployed, Columbus executed a wide range of operations in support of U.S. 7th Fleet. In addition, she conducted several training exercises, contributing to the nation’s strategic posture in the western Pacific region.
“The crew performed superbly through deployment,” said Youtt. “Each Sailor faced every day with enthusiasm and professionalism that was second to none.”
During the deployment, 28 Sailors qualified in submarines and are now entitled to wear the submarine warfare insignia, also referred to as “dolphins” after completing a rigorous qualification process that included in-depth understanding of submarine construction and operations and also practical assessments of the Sailors’ ability to combat a wide range of casualties that could be encountered while aboard the submarine.
A majority of the crew also completed advanced qualifications, including engineering watch supervisor, diving officer of the watch and chief of the watch. These qualifications provide greater watch bill flexibility and help ensure that Columbus’ performance will remain strong.
“This deployment offered significant experience and training for the young Sailors that will be the leaders of our Navy,” said Youtt. “More than half the crew deployed for the first time and are now experienced future deployers.”
Despite steaming more than 40,000 nautical miles in support of the nation’s defense, the crew enjoyed several memorable port visits which included Guam, South Korea and Japan. Columbus also conducted a time-honored ceremony of “crossing the line” where 100 Sailors earned the title of “shellback” for crossing the equator for the first time.
“I really learned a lot about submarines and my job on this deployment, but the best part is when I became submarine-qualified and got my dolphins,” said Electronics Technician Seaman (SS) Jonathan Diquattro from Columbus, Ga. “The experience I gained and the places we visited makes my first deployment something I will never forget.”