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SSN 722 Key West

USS KEY WEST was commissioned on 12 September 1987, by Mrs. Virginia Conn at Naval Base, Norfolk, Virginia. Following commissioning, USS KEY WEST set sail for a brief port visit to her namesake city of KEY WEST, Florida, followed by a successful initial weapons certification and accuracy testing. The final new construction phase and the post shakedown availability in 1988 was highlighted by the completion of the Vertical Launch System. In 1989, USS KEY WEST conducted her first overseas Eastern Atlantic deployment.

In 1990, USS KEY WEST embarked on her first Mediterranean deployment, where she received the coveted "Hook-em" Award for antisubmarine warfare excellence. In 1991 USS KEY WEST was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for superb performance in "Cold War" operations conducted during her 1989 and 1990 deployments. This same year USS KEY WEST was also awarded the Submarine Squadron Eight Engineering "E" for excellence. USS KEY WEST conducted operations in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994. In 1992 USS KEY WEST was awarded the Submarine Squadron Eight Battle "E" for excellence and efficiency, as well the 1992 TOPTORP Torpedo Shooting Champion. In December 1992, while en route to operations in the Caribbean, USS KEY WEST visited her namesake city of Key West, Florida. In 1993, she was awarded the Submarine Squadron Eight Tactical "T" for antisubmarine warfare excellence. During the summer of 1994, the ship made the most recent visit to her namesake city.

In 1995, USS KEY WEST deployed with the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 72) Battle Group to the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf. USS KEY WEST operated with NATO forces in support of resolution to the conflict in former Yugoslavia. USS KEY WEST later made her first transit of the Suez Canal for operations in the Arabian Gulf. The crew of the USS KEY WEST was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, Armed Forces Service, and NATO Service medals for their outstanding 1995 Mediterranean Deployment. Additionally, the USS KEY WEST was awarded the Submarine Squadron Eight Green "C" for communications excellence in 1995.

The USS KEY WEST spent the first half of 1996 conducting operations in the Western Atlantic and preparing for Interfleet transfer to the Pacific Fleet. In June 1996, she departed from Norfolk, Virginia and transited the Panama Canal, arriving in her new homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in July 1996 as a member of Submarine Squadron one. In April 1997, the USS KEY WEST deployed with the USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) battle Group to the Western Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf. In June 1997 USS KEY WEST joined the newly re-established Submarine Squadron Three. During January and February 1998, USS KEY WEST served as host ship in support of Prospective Submarine Commanding Officer underway tactical training. In spring 1998, USS KEY WEST deployed to the Eastern Pacific in support of CARL VINSON and ABRAHAM LINCOLN Carrier Battle Group pre-deployment training exercises. In July 1998, USS KEY WEST participated in Rim of the Pacific '98 (RIMPAC), a biennial multi-nation naval exercise, off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands.

From October through December 1998, USS KEY WEST deployed to the Western Pacific. During the deployment, KEY WEST participated in FOAL EAGLE '98, Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX), and a torpedo exercise. GOAL EAGLE is a regularly scheduled training exercise comprised of Republic of Korea (ROK) and U.S. Forces, held at a variety of locations throughout the TOK. Annual Exercise is a joint exercise composed of Japan and U.S. Naval Forces, conducted in the Sea of Japan. During this deployment, USS KEY WEST distinguished itself as the first submarine to launch and employ MK48 ADCAP exercise torpedoes in foreign waters.

In Sept. 2001, the USS Key West was on its way to Bahrain for liberty when notification of the terrorist attacks came. The submarine was diverted immediately to the North Arabian Sea where it launched cruise missiles against Afghanistan in October 2001.

USS Key West left for a six-month deployment Jan. 24, 2003. The Los Angeles-class attack submarine and its crew of 130 men will be conducting missions in support of the global war on terrorism or possible contingencies elsewhere in the world.

The focal point of the sub's emblem is the Conch Shell, the fabled horn of the Greek God Triton and the symbol of the namesake city. The submarine emerging from the shell symbolizes the emergence of the city as the leading city of the Florida Keys.

The submarine is steaming in a southwesterly direction, symbolizing the direction that the Florida Keys point into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The colors are symbolic of the National Ensign and Naval tradition. The submarine insignia symbolizes the heritage that the ship has with all past and future submarines. The motto "Liberate Clavis Tenacitas et Ingenium" translates to "The Key to Freedom is Tenacity and Resourcefulness." the phrase "The Key to Freedom" represents the namesake city and the ship's mission to protection of the fundamental rights and liberties of the American people. The phrase "Tenacity and resourcefulness" was used by the Mayor of Key West during his speech at the ship's launching to describe the characteristics of a true Conch - a native of Key West. Additionally, "Ingenium" is the word used by the ancient Greek historians to describe the resourcefulness and ingenuity of Hercules during his exploits as a sailor.

"Tinclad #32"

USS Key West, a 207-ton stern-wheel "tinclad" river gunboat, was built in 1862 at California, Pennsylvania, as the civilian steamer Key West No. 3. Purchased by the Navy in April 1863, she was converted to a gunboat and commissioned the following month as USS Key West. She was assigned to patrol and escort duties on the Tennessee River, where she protected Union forces from Confederate raids. On 10 October 1864, Key West received damage in gunnery actions with enemy batteries during an expedition to Eastport, Mississippi. Early in November, she took part in an operation to recapture a transport steamer at Johnsonville, Tennessee, in company with the "Tinclads" Elfin and Tawah. Near there on 4 November 1864, the three gunboats were trapped by Confederate artillery. After a vigorous engagement, Key West and her two consorts were burned to prevent capture.


The second warship named Key West, PF-17, was launched 29 December 1943 by the American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, Ohio. She was sponsored by Mrs. Vernon Lowe, sister of Lt. Harold Felton, the first resident of Key West reported missing in World War II. The Key West was commissioned at Houston 7 November 1944 with LCDR Bertheld Papanek, USCGR, in command.

Key West stood out of Galveston Bay 17 November 1944 for training exercises and escort duty out of Bermuda. The frigate operated there until sailing for Norfolk 22 December. Key West departed Hampton Roads 18 January 1945 escorting a convoy to Oran, Algeria, and returned Boston 28 February.

During the next 4 months, she made two cruises out of Casco Bay, Maine. Upon her return New York 14 June, from her final cruise, Key West remained at Brooklyn until 5 July when she sailed for Boston for conversion to a weather ship which included the removal of her after 3-inch gun and the addition of a weather balloon hanger.

She departed Boston 31 July and, after transiting the Canal, arrived Pearl Harbor 23 August. Key West was then assigned to duty of weather station patrol in the vicinity of Guam, arriving there 10 September. She operated out of Apra Harbor reporting meteorological data and stood by to aid ships in distress until 14 March 1946 when she arrived San Francisco. Key West departed San Francisco 9 April and served for 3 weeks on plane-guard station off the North California Coast. The weather ship arrived Seattle, Washington, 1 May and was decommissioned at Bremerton, 14 June 1946. She was sold 18 April 1947 to Cascade Enterprises, Oakland, Calif., and scrapped.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:00:53 ZULU