NORFOLK (NNS) -- After more than 23 years of service, the Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708) inactivated in a ceremony June 22 at Pier 3 at Naval Station Norfolk.
Eleven of the 12 Minneapolis-St. Paul's commanding officers and five of its chiefs of the boat attended the inactivation ceremony.
Although the ceremony was a celebration, Commanding Officer Cmdr. Woods R. Brown made sure to point out it wasn't a celebration of the end of Minneapolis-St. Paul's career.
"We are not celebrating the inactivation of the mighty Minneapolis-St. Paul, but rather we are celebrating a service to this nation of a great and mighty avatar who has added considerably to the defense of America and her freedoms," said Brown.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul completed 12 deployments and earned seven Meritorious Unit Commendations during its 24-year life span. Most recently, the submarine returned from its final six-month deployment to the North Atlantic in April during which it made port visits to Brest, France; Rota, Spain; Plymouth, England; and Lisbon, Portugal.
Submarines like Minneapolis-St. Paul have provided the front line of defense for decades. In all, the sub has visited 26 different ports since it was commissioned in 1984. During deployments the crew demonstrated the flexibility of the fast-attack submarine using its inherent stealth, endurance, and agility in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime security operations.
Capt. Dave Kriete, commodore, Submarine Squadron 6, brought to the attention of the many guests in attendance that Minneapolis-St. Paul has been more than just a place for its Sailors to lay their head.
"The ship is much more than a home," said Kriete. "For the many men who served aboard her, it is a place where many teenagers became men and where many Sailors first learned responsibility, camaraderie and teamwork both individually and together. Each of them learned important life lessons living out the ideals of duty, honor and country."
Vice Adm. Jay Donnelly, Commander Submarine Force, attributes the many successes of Minneapolis-St. Paul and submarines like her to the Sailors.
"What makes us strong is not these ships -- it's our people," said Donnelly. "I've always been proud to be a submariner following in my father's footsteps, but in my four and a half months at Submarine Force I have been repeatedly reminded of the caliber and commitment of my fellow submariners. They are talented, motivated and have chosen to serve their nation in the world's finest submarines."
Although the submarine will no longer deploy, principle speaker, retired Vice Adm. James Metzger, the submarine's third commanding officer, believes it will always be a part of the submarine force legacy.
"When the world is a more generous place, a world without terrorism, a world without the employment of precision nuclear weapons, a world that is not on the brink of mutual assured destruction we can all take comfort in the fact that this fine ship -- the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul -- contributed to that world and the adversary knows a war can never be won as long as there's no way to get at our submarines," said Metzger.
"There will not be a victory parade or a wall or monument with their names on it in this ship's lifetime," continued Metzger. "We did not see significant sea battles and so few laid down their lives, but there's no question that they laid down a portion of their lives."
Commenting on life ashore missed while at sea Metzger commended the Sailors and their families.
"Christmases and Thanksgivings were spent at sea. Weddings and births were missed. The birthdays of loved ones could not be shared and countless hugs from children, spouses and friends can never be recouped. There are careers that would have brought them home each evening, but these patriots decided instead to carry out the calling of their country and bring fine ships such as Minneapolis-St. Paul to life and to carry out the duties of the United States," he said.
In the near future, Minneapolis-St. Paul will sail down the Chesapeake Bay for the last time. While some will transfer to new commands, most will remain on board to ensure the submarine completes the transit to Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, where she will be inactivated and taken out of service.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, a four time Battle Efficiency "E" award winner, throughout its commission exceptionally demonstrated the fast-attack submarine' multi-mission qualities of stealth, persistence, agility and firepower -- able to deploy and support special forces operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary's military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity, and ensure undersea superiority. Minneapolis-St. Paul is 360 feet long, displaces 6,900 tons of water, and can travel in excess of 25 knots.
For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/sublant/.