BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- USS Emory S. Land (AS 39), one of only two submarine tenders in the Navy's ship inventory, departed Bremerton June 14, bound for its new forward-deployed homeport of Diego Garcia.
The submarine tender will provide an expeditionary maintenance capability to the fast-attack submarines and guided missile submarines, particularly those operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Forward-deploying USS Emory S. Land to Diego Garcia will dramatically reduce transit time for submarines operating in 5th Fleet that require intermediate level maintenance, emergent repair, or logistics support.
Emory S. Land recently completed an extensive series of shipyard availabilities, the majority performed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA.
In addition to modernization and hull restoration work, Emory S. Land became the first submarine tender to complete conversion to a hybrid U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command vessel. The conversion creates an integrated crew, teaming the professionalism and expertise of both Sailors and civilian mariners.
However, unlike most ships manned and operated by the Military Sealift Command, Emory S. Land will remain designated as a United States Ship under the command of a U.S. Navy captain.
Near the end of the ship's availability, Emory S. Land completed repairs to several propulsion train elements during a dry dock period in Cascade General Shipyard, Portland, Ore.
"The ship is in the best material condition it has been in a very long time," said Capt. Ed Seal, commanding officer. "The work performed by the different public and private shipyards over these past two years will allow the ship to operate forward deployed for many years to come. The crew is ready and eager to set sail for Diego Garcia, and to get back to its primary mission of tending submarines and surface ships, this time operating in the 5th Fleet area. I am proud of what the crew has accomplished during this extensive shipyard period, and the teamwork that continues to grow on board between civilian mariner and Sailor shipmates. The ship is ready for sea."
Following completion of sea trials, the ship hosted over 100 family members and guests for a Family Day cruise during its short transit from Indian Island, Wash. to Bremerton.
"It seemed like everyone who brought their families had a good time," said Logistics Specialist Seaman Jose' Rios.
Young guests were given an opportunity to learn about the ship's construction and operation by completing a junior enlisted surface warfare qualification. Those completing the qualifications were awarded certificates signed by the commanding officer and command master chief.
Diego Garcia is a coral atoll and the largest island in terms of land area of the Chagos Archipelago. Diego Garcia is located in the Indian Ocean approximately 1,000 miles south of the southern coast of India and is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.
Emory S. Land is assigned to Commander, U.S. Submarine Force Pacific in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The ship's forward-deployed change of homeport to Diego Garcia is part of the Global Posture Defense Realignment.
For more news from Commander, Submarine Group 9, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/csg9/.