Virginia-class submarine USS California (SSN 781) wrapped up a six-month deployment, returning to her Groton homeport on Friday, Sept. 21.
The nuclear-powered, fast-attack submarine, under the command of Cmdr. Dave Payne, California returned to her homeport of Naval Submarine Base, New London following a deployment to the European Command Area of Responsibility.
“The entire California family performed admirably throughout our deployment to US Sixth Fleet,” said Payne, commanding officer, USS California (SSN 781). “These sailors, supported by exceptional families, demonstrated the awesome flexibility and power of our nation’s finest warship.”
During the deployment, California steamed approximately 42,000 nautical miles and served as ambassadors for the United States, the Navy and the submarine force during port visits to Faslane, Scotland and Haakonsvern, Norway.
One of the notable parts of the homecoming was that there were no “new fathers,” those who had yet to meet their new babies who had been born during the deployment. This was in part due to manning flexibility which allowed those who were expecting babies in the early days of deployment to be temporarily assigned locally until their child was born and others to depart the submarine during a port visit to make it home to either be there for their child’s birth or shortly thereafter to meet their newest bundle of joy.
The crew put their time underway to good use. During the deployment, 29 of the crew received promotions, one officer earning their gold dolphins (submarine service warfare device), 25 crew members earning their silver dolphins, 19 watch qualifications, and three reenlistments while traveling the equivalent of approximately two complete trips around Earth at its equator.
Commissioned on October 29, 2011, California is the eighth US Navy vessel to carry the name California. It is 377 feet long with a beam of 34 feet. Virginia-class fast attack submarines have a crew of approximately 132 made up of 15 officers and 117 enlisted sailors. The California’s motto is Silentium Est Aureum (“Silence is Golden”), which pays tribute to both the submarine force’s motto, The Silent Service, and California’s state motto, The Golden State.