FLEET ACTIVITIES YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) arrived at Fleet Activities Yokosuka Nov. 5 for a routine visit as a part of its 2015 deployment to the Western Pacific.
With a crew of 135, North Carolina will conduct a multitude of missions and employ the latest capabilities of the submarine force.
"The Tarheel Boat is proud to be here in the Western Pacific and is honored to be guests in Japan and of the JMSDF (Kaijoujietai)," said Cmdr. Gary Montalvo, North Carolina's commanding officer. "The Tarheel crew has shown exemplary resilience in getting our ship to peak readiness for this deployment. I am extremely proud of the effort and am simply amazed everyday by their attitude and success. They truly represent the strength of the ship and exemplify the Tarheel spirit."
North Carolina is the fourth submarine in the Virginia class, the Navy's newest class of submarine and the first ship designed for the post-Cold War environment. It is designed to operate with stealth, agility and endurance in the world's littoral regions, as well as the deep oceans. Designed to accomplish a wide variety of missions as required by its operational commanders, North Carolina's crew recently completed a rigorous training and evaluation cycle to prepare for the full range of possible tasking in the region.
"The crew has put in a lot of long days throughout 2015 preparing to bring the Tarheel boat from Pearl Harbor to the Western Pacific and do the work our nation requires of us," said Master Chief Sonar Technician (submarines) JR O'Donnell, the chief of the boat aboard North Carolina. "All the training and preparations have already paid off during our time in theater and it is all because of the Tarheel crew. Now we're all looking forward to some well-deserved time during North Carolina's return visit to Japan."
For many of the crew members, this is not only their first deployment, but also their first time visiting Japan. There are some, however, who have spent time in Japan prior to this deployment and are enthusiastic to return.
"I am very excited to be seeing Japan again and look forward to spending time immersed in the culture," said Information Technician (Submarines) 2nd Class Khalid Kei Kozawa Alkazak. "I spent three years here when I was younger and look forward to speaking my first language again."
Others are looking forward to visiting with fellow submariners from the JMSDF.
"Japan is one of our closest allies in this region and the relationship of the United States and Japan cannot be overstated," said Lt. j. g. John A. Chisvette. "I'm excited about this port visit because it affords the Tarheel boat an opportunity to both build personal relationships and strengthen international ones."
North Carolina is home-ported in Pearl Harbor and was commissioned in 2008. This is North Carolina's third deployment. Dubbed the Tarheel boat by the ship's sponsor, Linda Bowman, the Tarheels are excited to serve their nation at the pointy end of the spear.