PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717) returned Feb. 25 from a scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific, welcomed by family and friends gathered at the submarine piers of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The submarine's commanding officer, Cmdr. Thomas Shugart, said the crew was outstanding and productive throughout the deployment.
"It was fantastic!" said Shugart, a native of Houston. "Our Sailors did a great job representing us and the nation overseas, working with our allies and projecting power forward in defense of peace and harmony in the Western Pacific."
Olympia successfully completed an array of undersea operations and training evolutions, and worked with allied partners in several multinational exercises, thus improving the overall mission readiness of U.S. and allied forces.
Shugart commended his crew for being great ambassadors on behalf of the nation and said they had a lot of fun.
"The guys were very excited to visit places like Korea and Japan," said Shugart. "They saw a lot of sights, which is a part of what joining the Navy is about; it's seeing the world."
Shugart added that the crew has a deep sense of pride brought on by their accomplishments while on deployment.
In addition to gaining the experience of operating in the Western Pacific, the deployment afforded Sailors the opportunity to work on qualifications.
"We had several Sailors and officers who received their Submarine Warfare Qualifications while on deployment," said Olympia's Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Electronics Technician Roland Midgett. "Through the various events Olympia participated in, we were able to present their "dolphins" uniform insignia at various ports or on the bridge during the underway period."
"We are elated to be back," added Midgett. "It's great to have accomplished all we have, and now the crew is ready to spend some time with the family."
Olympia returned home with a new second in charge, with Lt. Cmdr. Rob Walls having relieved Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Flaherty as executive officer of Olympia in a pre-scheduled relief during the deployment.
When Olympia rounded the corner inside Pearl Harbor to a crowd of family and friends, it became apparent that they were finally home.
Jana Miller, wife of Electronics Technician 1st Class Kyle Miller said she is looking forward to seeing his face and giving him a big hug. The couple hails from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"Welcome home, guys!" exclaimed Miller. "We are gonna go camping and try to go home for the summer!"
Sonar Technician (Submarines) Seaman John Barnes, one of the newest Sailors on board, said he found the deployment challenging yet rewarding.
"It really makes you realize how close you become with your family on the boat, and there is nothing like it," said Barnes. "It was long, it was aggravating at some point, but in the end, it was well worth it. Definitely a good experience."
Many Sailors aboard Olympia distinguished themselves during this deployment period and were recognized through promotions, awards or having earned their submarine warfare pin signifying their qualification as submariners.
Olympia personnel who earned their submarine warfare pin, or "dolphins," are Lt. j.g. Zachary Copes; Lt. j.g. Louis Wu, of Gaithersburg, Maryland.; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Chad Wright, of Florence, Arizona; Information Systems Technician (Submarines) 3rd Class Justin Brennan, of Woodbridge, Virginia; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Christopher Floresrazo, of Norwalk, California; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Robert Marfut, of Bremerton, Washington; Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Shaun Feeney-Moore, of South Mills, North Carolina; Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Eric Martin, of Beverly, Massachusetts; Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Guillermo Ramirez, of Lancaster, California; Sonar Technician (Submarines) 3rd Class Robert Krisko; Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Darren Ortilla, of Sacramento, California; Logistics Specialist Seaman Shawn Mallory, of Haslet, Texas; Sonar Technician (Submarines) Seaman Christopher Naquin, of Carpentersville, Illinois; Machinist's Mate Fireman David Phillips, of Essexville, Michigan; Electronics Technician Seaman Aaron Bailey, of Denham Springs, Louisiana; Sonar Technician (Submarines) Seaman Jonathan Barnes, of Summerton, South Carolina; and Fire Control Technician Seaman Jacob Warminton, of Flemington, Missouri.
More than 20 Olympia team members received promotions to the next rank during this deployment.
Lt. Lewis Im, of Bayside, New York, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander; and Electronics Technician 1st Class Derek Scammon, of Wibaux, Montana, earned a promotion to chief electronics technician.
Sailors promoted to the rank of petty officer first class include Electrician's Mate 1st Class Jory Anderson, of Austin, Texas; Electrician's Mate 1st Class Alexander Strickland, of Seattle; Electrician's Mate 1st Class Matthew Budny, of Nicholasville, Kentucky; Machinist's Mate 1st Class Aaron Minard; Culinary Specialist 1st Class Jameson Barlow, of Tampa, Florida; and Electronics Systems Technician 1st Class Cory Saunders, of Snellville, Georgia.
Those who received promotions to petty officer second class include Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Cameron Beswick, of Saugus, California; Sonar Technician (Submarines) 2nd Class Brandon Cummings, of Peoria, Arizona; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Michael Donza, of Delray Beach, Florida; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Anthony Huber, of Framingham, Massachusetts;
Electronics Technician 2nd Jonathan Nogaj, of Honolulu, Hawaii; and Electronics Technician 2nd Bryan Smith, of Kenvir, Kentucky.
Receiving promotions to petty officer third class include Fire Control Technician 3rd Class Arnoldnoel Andrade, of Stockton, California; Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Seth Cleaver, of Jerome, Idaho; Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Eric Martin; Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Guillermo Ramirez; Machinist's Mate 3rd Andrew Tyson; Sonar Technician (Submarines) 3rd Class Brandon Tackett, of West Carrollton, Ohio; and Sonar Technician 3rd Class Theodore West, of West Palm Beach, Florida.
Several Olympia Sailors had their superior actions on deployment recognized with letters of commendation, including Culinary Specialist 1st Class Jameson Barlow; Machinist's Mate 1st Class Michael Swatowski, of Madison, Ohio; Electrician's Mate 1st Class Matthew Budny; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Sebastian Whiting, of Waipahu, Hawaii; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Jeremy Williams, of Lapeer, Michigan; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jeremy Zila, of Overland Park, Kansas; Sonar Technician (Submarines) 2nd Class Brandon Cummings; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class John Valentine; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Joseph Vorce, of Honolulu, Hawaii; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Michael Gomez, of Hialeah, Florida; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Andrew Shipe, of Shamokin, Pennsylvania.; Electrician's Mate 3rd Class John Beatty, of Granger, Indiana; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Shawn Slutzky, of Williams, Indiana; Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Michael Taisacan, of Saipan, Northern Marianas Islands; Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Troy Wagner, of Canton, Ohio; Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Eric Martin; Culinary Specialist Seaman Kyle Fitzpatrick, of Desoto, Texas; and Machinist's Mate Fireman David Phillips, of Essexville, Michigan.
Two Sailors were honored in receiving the Naval Marine Corps Achievement Medal for their efforts: Culinary Specialist 1st Class Tyler Case, of Honolulu, Hawaii; and Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Leang Lee, of San Jose, California.
Olympia's Sailor of the Year is Machinist's Mate 1st Class Kyle Hulett, of Kings, California. The Junior Sailor of the Year is Electrician's Mate 1st Class Jory Anderson, of Austin, Texas; and the Blue Jacket of the Year is Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Jake Newman, of Beavercreek, Ohio.
USS Olympia is the second ship of the United States Navy to be named after Olympia, Washington. Commissioned on Nov. 17, 1984, Olympia is the 29th ship of the Los Angeles-class nuclear powered fast attack submarines. The submarine is 362-feet long, displaces 6,900 tons and can be armed with sophisticated Mark-48 torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.