NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- On a blustery winter day members of the Norfolk Admirals hockey team braved single-digit wind chill temperatures to visit their namesake ship, the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Norfolk (SSN 714), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Dec. 14, 2010.
The Admirals are a minor professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League and an affiliate of the National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning.
A contingent of 24 staff and team members were greeted on the crew's mess deck by the submarine's commanding officer, Cmdr. Douglas Jordan.
"I want to wish all welcome aboard," said Jordan. "We have an entertaining tour arranged for all. All will be able to visit the control room, sonar, the torpedo room, and other spaces on the submarine. Tour guides will be escorting you to the spaces and Sailors will be available in all the spaces to answer questions. Before you leave, we have some departing gifts for you. It is an honor for the men of Norfolk to share this afternoon with you."
After the welcoming, left-winger Chris Durno, a native of Scarborough, Ontario, presented Jordan with an autographed hockey stick.
"As a token of our appreciation we want to present you this signed stick," said Durno. "We look forward to the visit."
As the tour progressed through the spaces, Durno gained an even greater appreciation of the submarine's mission.
"You can't see anything," he said. "For all intents and purposes the Sailors are a team working in a tight and stressful environment. Their efforts show how teamwork is necessary for success, individuals working in different departments to a common goal. Our jobs are simple compared to theirs."
Petty Officer First Class Christopher Pillion, a 12-year submarine sonar technician from Brooklyn, N.Y., enjoyed sharing his professional knowledge with the hockey players.
"This is awesome community relations," he said. "We fight for freedom and they come onboard to pick-up our spirits. It is also good for them, as we can always pay to see them play, but they don't get many opportunities to tour a submarine."
Stefano Giliati, a native of Montreal and also a left-winger on the team, echoed Pillion's sentiments.
"Not many people get this opportunity to tour a submarine, and it has been an interesting experience," he said. "On a day-to-day basis, their lifestyle onboard is different than ours, but also is very similar. Men are working as a team, and each guy has a role on the team to play in order to become successful. It all relates to team."
Navigating narrow passageways, tight spaces and low ceilings was a challenge for some. However, the challenge was more pronounced for 6-foot-8-inch defenseman Vladimir Mihalik, a native of Presov, Slovakia.
"This is a great experience, because there are no submarines in Slovakia," he said. "Not many people get this chance, and I appreciate them sharing what they do. While I don't know if I could live on a submarine, it is interesting how they can be together for so long. They are similar to us in team spirit, as everyone has to get along and take care of each other."
Director of Community Relations, Millie Lomax, believes both parties gained perspective today.
"I really think a mutual respect was established today between the Norfolk crew and the Norfolk Admirals," she said. "I believe the players had a good time seeing how the crew operates, and I also believe it gave the players a different perspective. The players take their professions seriously, but experiences like today makes their challenges appear small."
As the tour concluded, the underlying belief was that two teams with two missions not only shared the teamwork concept but also a name.
"It was a pleasure to host the Norfolk Admirals," said Lt. Cmdr. Eric Sager, Norfolk executive officer and a native of Boston. "The crew thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share our proud heritage with another outstanding team who bears the Norfolk name."
For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/sublant/.