KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- The two crews of fleet ballistic submarine USS Alaska (SSBN 732) officially split during an assumption of command ceremony held at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay May 29, putting Alaska one step closer to becoming a deployable asset.
Each SSBN has two crews, Blue and Gold, which alternate manning the submarines while on patrol. This maximizes the SSBN's strategic availability while maintaining the crew's training readiness and morale at high levels. On average, the submarines spend 77 days at sea followed by 35 days in port for maintenance during which time the other crew is completing training and qualifications.
Cmdr. Paul Haebler, who commanded the combined crews for two years, turned over half of the Alaska crew to Cmdr. Cory Jackson, officially separating the boat into blue and gold crews during the ceremony.
"After two years in command as just 'Alaska,' it is a strange feeling to think that now there might be two," said Haebler, who now commands Alaska's Blue crew. "But just as teamwork, brotherhood and ownership were the hallmarks of Alaska's success over those two years, the continued teamwork between crews is what will enable us to keep up with our one incredible ship as she draws up ever forward in excellence and professionalism."
Prior to arriving in Kings Bay in April, Alaska conducted a 26-month refueling complex overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The major overhaul is completed near the mid-point of the submarine's service life -- approximately 20 years -- to extend the useful life of the submarine, which in turn helps to maintain the required SSBN force level. The crew remained combined during the overhaul and sea trials.
Jackson, commanding officer of Alaska's Gold crew, highlighted the hard work of the combined crew during the ship's overhaul, sea trials and major ship inspection.
"We are well on our way to resuming strategic deterrent patrols on board Alaska," said Jackson, speaking to the crew during the assumption of command ceremony. "You have built the crew into a very strong team, and I know it was hard for you to give half of them up."
"We now have two great Alaska crews where only a month ago there was one great Alaska crew," Jackson said.
Alaska is the seventh Trident Ohio-class nuclear powered fleet ballistic missile submarine and the fourth United States Navy ship to bear the name of the state. Alaska was commissioned Jan. 25, 1986 and has conducted 59 strategic deterrent patrols.
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