PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- The crew of USS Columbus (SSN 762) said aloha to their friends and families Oct. 28 as they departed their homeport of Pearl Harbor, and headed to the western Pacific (WESTPAC).
What makes this cruise different, is that the submarine has changed from a technological standpoint. In addition to the many repairs and upgrades following her return from deployment in August 2002, the old fire control (weapons) mainframe computers were removed and replaced with off-the-shelf technology.
According to Cmdr. Michael B. Ryan, Columbus' commanding officer, implementing, maintaining and upgrading the new system is one-twentieth the cost of the original equipment.
"We installed a transformational fire control system using current technology processors to run the computers in the attack centers. Now we can upgrade our system with compact discs," said Ryan.
As for his Sailors, Ryan said they are ready to get underway and do their job. "The crew has put in a lot of hard work to get ready for today. The crew came off one deployment, had a major maintenance period and have put in a lot of work for this deployment."
Ryan credits the crew's families for encouraging the Sailors to go out there and do their job. "The crew is ready to go and we are able to do that because of the family support that we have at home. It's going to be tough to leave the families for six-months, but I know we have their support and that's what's going to make it easier to go on WESTPAC."
Columbus is a Los Angeles-class submarine (688 improved), making it one of the most advanced undersea vessels in the world. While undersea warfare is her primary mission, the inherent characteristics of the submarine - stealth, endurance and agility - are used in roles and missions to meet the challenges of a changing global geopolitical climate.
Columbus' capabilities include deployment of special forces, mine laying, precision land attack, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.
The 360-foot, 6,900-ton submarine is equipped with sophisticated ADCAP and MARK 48 anti-submarine/ship torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles. Columbus is the 51st 688 and the 12th improved version of this class, which includes a vertical launch system for Tomahawk cruise missiles and an improved hull design for under-ice operations.
For related news, visit the Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/subpac.