PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, paid a visit June 30 to the Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, during a mission to the island in conjunction with the world's largest international maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).
Chairman Dempsey, the highest ranking military officer in the U.S. Armed Forces, came aboard the submarine for a firsthand look at the technology of today's submarine force and to thank the Sailors for their service.
"It's really helpful for me, coming aboard, seeing and talking with this great crew. To be able to go back and talk about the human impact of our decisions," said Dempsey. "Now, I can go back and speak with added perspective. It's great."
Dempsey also told the commanding officer of North Carolina, Cmdr. Gary Montalvo, how much he appreciated the Sailors and all their hard work.
"I know I missed a lot of your leaders and your Sailors, so tell them how proud I am to be the chairman of this particular boat," said Dempsey to Montalvo, noting that the submarine just recently returned from a Western Pacific deployment and many of the crew were off to spend time with their families.
Montalvo said he and his crew were excited to have Dempsey on board. Montalvo reviewed with the Chairman the ship and her capabilities, and the dynamic ability to shift from one type of mission platform to another in a short amount of time.
"It was a great opportunity for the ship to show off the Tar Heels spirit because we are obviously very proud of the ship," said Montalvo, who himself is from North Carolina. "It was also a great opportunity for the crew to meet a senior leader like the Chairman. We learned a lot from him. He was very energizing toward the crew. He engaged with the crew and personally rewarded many with his command coin. It lets us feel appreciated."
Crew members throughout the submarine were given the opportunity to meet Dempsey and talk to him about their particular systems and work stations on board the ship.
Chief Electronics Technician Patrick Tucker showed Dempsey the ship's control station, how the ship is piloted, and also how water is transferred throughout the ship.
"It was an honor to be able to talk to the general, and it was really exciting to have him aboard our submarine," said Tucker.
Lieutenant Alex Duncan, the assistant engineer, showed Dempsey the modern optical equipment of the submarine, which has replaced more traditional periscope systems.
"The general seemed very interested in learning about the submarine, what we have available here to accomplish our mission, and what we can provide for the fleet," said Duncan.
Throughout the visit, Dempsey stopped to thank many junior personnel including Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Michael Siderio, who also happened to be from Dempsey's home state of New Jersey.
"I felt very honored to meet him, and I thought it was really cool that he came down here to greet us, because we just got back from deployment," said Siderio. "And he also gave me a coin!"
Toward the conclusion of the tour, Dempsey, a graduate degree program alumnus of Duke University in North Carolina, and his wife, Deanie Dempsey, took a picture next to Duke University memorabilia and was presented a Duke University t-shirt from Montalvo in appreciation for his visit to USS North Carolina.
Commissioned May 2008, North Carolina is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to carry the name North Carolina. The Virginia-class boat was built by General Dynamics Electric Boat Division in Groton, Connecticut, and Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia, and joined the fleet in December 2006.
The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit http://www.csp.navy.mil/.
Details of RIMPAC activities and imagery are available at http://www.cpf.navy.mil/rimpac.
For more information about Chairman Dempsey and the Joints Chiefs of Staff, visit http://www.jcs.mil/.
For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/subpac/.