NAVAL BASE POINT LOMA, Calif. (NNS) -- Sailors aboard nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Asheville (SSN 758) said farewell to friends and family members just before departing San Diego for a Western Pacific deployment, Aug. 1.
Commanding Officer Cmdr. Scott Swehla said this deployment is the culmination of 18 months of hard work and preparation. He said he is confident that the boat and crew will execute their missions successfully.
"USS Asheville," said Swehla, "with her incredible array of modern sensors and weapons, provides the fleet commander the capability to conduct critical operations spanning the spectrum of peacetime to hostilities. These missions include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, anti-submarine and surface warfare, engaging our allies, and showing the flag throughout the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean."
While this deployment is nothing new for seasoned submariners like Swehla, this deployment will be a first for others. That also means the chance to earn the submariner's warfare pin - the coveted "dolphins" that the submarine force has worn since the mid-1920s. Machinist's Mate Fireman Stefan Vandordrecht, who has been in the Navy just more than a year, is one of those Sailors. He expects the normal challenges of deployment, but is excited to travel.
"I'm looking forward to seeing different places and experience different cultures," said Vandordrecht.
Many expressed their intention to becoming better, more knowledgeable submariners. After doing two previous deployments, Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Philip Beggs feels this third one will allow him to focus more on his career. Beggs says his goal is to "learn as much as possible to make advancement."
Family members expressed pride in their Sailors, though they are sad to see the Asheville crew depart. Navy spouse Christy Flickinger said that she is lucky having a lot of family in the area, but it is always tough being separated from her husband so long. Luckily, she said, it gets a little easier with experience.
"This is our second deployment," said Flickinger. "The first time you don't know what to expect. This time I'm going to send picture disks and videos."
Asheville is the 47th Los Angeles-class submarine. She is named after the North Carolina city located in the midst of the Smoky Mountains. Asheville's keel was laid Jan. 14, 1987, and the boat was commissioned Sept. 28, 1991.
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