JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Friends and family members gathered pierside to cheer the return of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Bremerton (SSN 698) following the successful completion of her six-month Western Pacific deployment on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, June 15.
Cmdr. Wes Bringham, hailing from Dallas and Bremerton's commanding officer, praised his crew for their outstanding performance and determination throughout the deployment.
"A large focus of this deployment has been individual development and building 'bench depth' in the crew," Bringham said. "We have been wildly successful at this, in large part due to the drive and motivation that each sailor has had to excel."
Thirteen sailors advanced in rank, and 19 earned their submarine warfare qualifications, which allows them to wear the submarine warfare insignia and shows others they have mastered overall submarine warfare knowledge.
Bremerton has completed 15 Western Pacific deployments throughout her 35-years of service, said Bringham. As the oldest commissioned Los Angeles-class submarine, she proved her fighting spirit while she steamed more than 30,000 nautical miles to complete her missions.
"It all starts with having the proper mindset. From a new sailor's first day aboard, they are taught that our boat isn't 'old', it's a 'classic' and classics take work to restore and maintain," said Bremerton's Chief of the Boat Master Chief Fire Controlman Wade Jacobson, from Alum Bank, Pennsylvania.
One of the highlights of the deployment was participating in two bilateral exercises with the Republic of Korea Navy, exercises Foal Eagle and Ship Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness and Evaluation Measurement (SHAREM), to further ties with the U.S. Pacific ally, Bringham said.
"My crew got a lot out of the interactions with our close ally, and we learned a lot about operations in the constrained waters near the Korean Peninsula," Bringham said. "Our participation in these exercises contributed to the interoperability and combined warfighting capability between our two countries."
While building relationships in the Pacific, Bremerton conducted port-call visits to Guam, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Singapore.
"We pulled into ports of countries I would have never dreamt to visit and experience their rich cultures," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class Albert I. Rice, from Grandview, Texas. "From Buddhist temples in South Korea, to centuries-old castles in Japan, and to gazing upon the city of Singapore, this deployment certainly offered experiences that will have a lasting impact on my life."
The Bremerton crew took pride in the completion of their successful deployment, and Bringham took pride in his submariners.
"I can truthfully say that I would go anywhere with this crew, knowing that they will keep the ship at sea allowing us to accomplish the mission with excellence," Bringham said. "We are coming back home much stronger than when we left, and that is a testament to a culture of growth and development that my crew has at the deckplate level."
USS Bremerton, commissioned on March 28, 1981, is the second ship of the U.S. Navy to bear the name of the Washington city. It is the eleventh ship of the Los Angeles-class of nuclear attack submarines. The vessel is 362-feet long, displaces 6,900 tons and can be armed with Mark-48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) torpedoes.