PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Friends and families of the crew from USS Greeneville (SSN 772) gathered on Dec. 14 at the submarine piers of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to welcome back the Los Angeles-class submarine after it completed a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific region.
"Greeneville is proud to return to Pearl Harbor after an extremely successful six-month deployment, having not only achieved the national goals assigned to her, but also having served as ambassadors of American goodwill in three countries," said Cmdr. Martin Muckian, USS Greeneville's commanding officer.
Greeneville is the only ship in the United States Navy to be named for Greeneville, Tenn.
VISITING FOREIGN LANDS
The submarine completed a variety of operations and several training exercises throughout the deployment, contributing to the nation's strategic posture in the region, according to a Navy news release.
Greeneville also strengthened relationships between the United States and the Republic of Korea during a multinational exercise with the Korean Naval Forces.
"For many of the crew this will be one of the few times in their life to experience foreign cultures first-hand," said Master Chief Electronics Technician Marcus Hensley, USS Greeneville's chief of the boat.
With more than 34,000 nautical miles steamed and multiple challenging operations completed, the crew had the opportunity to enjoy several port visits including Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, Saipan and Singapore during their six months away from Pearl Harbor.
With about 60 percent of the crew making their first Western Pacific deployment, they had the opportunity for invaluable training and unique experiences, the release stated.
During the deployment, 26 enlisted sailors became submarine-qualified and are now entitled to wear the enlisted submarine warfare insignia.
A large number of the crew also completed advanced qualifications, including engineering watch supervisor, diving officer of the watch, and chief of the watch.
These qualifications will ensure that Greeneville's performance will remain strong following deployment.
Since returning, the crew has already played host to members of the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) men's basketball team, as well as their friends and family.
The team was in the area to play in the Hawaii Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
"This was a business trip first, but there was also an educational value while visiting the island," Head Coach Murry Bartow said.
"We took the team to Pearl Harbor to the see the USS Arizona and what that memorial stands for, and then we topped that off with a first-class tour of an active submarine with ties to our local area in East Tennessee -- the USS Greeneville," Bartow added.
"The trip to Pearl Harbor really gave our guys a greater appreciation for our military."
Among those touring the submarine were senior forward player Lukas Poderis and junior forward player Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard.
"I really liked the torpedo room," Poderis said. "The crew even simulated firing one for us, which was a neat experience."
"It was amazing to see how condensed everything was as far as space goes on the submarine," Gadsden-Gilliard commented.
"It was interesting to see the many different ways they use the small spaces on board."
Jay Sandos, the voice of the Buccaneers, dubbed as a "great experience" the opportunity to see the fully-functioning Los Angeles-class nuclear fast-attack submarine.
"The crew gave us about an hour-long tour, which included them answering our questions and giving demonstrations on fire masks, using the telescope, and firing torpedoes," Sandos explained.
"They also showed us the radar and steam room, living quarters, command post, and dining areas -- which also double as meeting rooms and an operating table if need be.
"This tour went beyond our expectations," he added. "Our entire travel party team got a glimpse of their everyday life.
"The crew just came back from a six-month tour in the Pacific a week ago, and were a very gracious host."