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USS Columbia returns from surge deployment to Western Pacific

SUBPAC Release

Release Date: 5/10/2004

By JOC(SW/AW) David Rush COMSUBPAC Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, HI -- Following a three month surge deployment to the Western Pacific, the crewmembers of USS Columbia (SSN 771) returned to their homeport of Pearl Harbor Monday, May 10.

According to the nuclear-powered attack submarine's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Duane Ashton, the Sailors did a great job on their short fused deployment. "The surge deployment went very well. The crew was able to turn the ship around from a previous deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and once we found out we would be deployed again to the Western Pacific we began in earnest our upkeep and almost our entire pre-deployment work up cycle, but the crew stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park."

Ashton commended not only his submariners for a job well done, but also Submarine Squadron Three for their essential support. "I am very proud of what my crew was able to do. The squadron worked very hard to help us get ready and prepare for operations in the 7th Fleet."

As part of the Chief of Naval Operations Fleet Response Plan, USS Columbia was the first Pacific Fleet submarine to be surge-deployed. "A surge deployment is when the submarine gets underway outside of the normal inter-deployment training cycle. That cycle is normally 18 months; we did it in essentially six months. We moved the clock forward to be able to deploy much earlier than originally planned," said Ashton.

Although the crew had to endure long hours to get the submarine ready, Ashton added that they knew they had family and friends behind them. "Having the family support that we have here helped. Our ombudsman and our family support group were awesome. It allowed the crew to focus on the mission at hand," concluded Ashton.

USS Columbia was built with the state-of-the art SEAWOLF technology. Application of this technology makes this ship the most modern submarine in the world. Both construction methods and computerization make Columbia stand out as a unique submarine platform among the 688 improved class.

This submarine is one of the most versatile weapons platforms ever placed in the world's oceans, capable of long range Tomahawk strike operations, anti-submarine and surface shipping operations, surveillance and intelligence gathering, and special forces insertions.

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