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USS Newport News (SSN 750) Returns Home, Earns Coveted Battle 'E' Award

04 January 2023

From Lt. Cmdr. Seth Koenig, Submarine Readiness Squadron (SRS) 32

GROTON, Conn. - The new year is only three days old, but it’s already been a good 2023 for the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Newport News (SSN 750).

The submarine returned home to Naval Submarine Base New London on a rainy Tuesday, Jan. 3, after a six-month deployment under the command of Cmdr. Joseph A. Fontenot. But that’s not the only good news for Newport News, which garnered one of the top honors on the Groton waterfront.

“It’s a great start to 2023 welcoming Cmdr. Fontenot and the crew of Newport News back home,” said Capt. Thomas O’Donnell, commander of Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 12, under which Newport News operates. “These Sailors reached such a level of excellence in their performance that they earned the 2022 Battle E award as the top-performing submarine in Squadron 12, an honor bestowed upon the very best we send to sea.

“The steady, unwavering presence of U.S. Navy submarines worldwide provides our country with a tremendous military edge, but it takes a lot of hard work and commitment on the part of our Sailors and their families to maintain that vigilance and advantage,” he continued. “I want to congratulate the Sailors of Newport News for a job well-done on their deployment and thank their loved ones for their sacrifices here at home.”

The Navy’s Battle Effectiveness – widely known as “Battle E”– awards recognize the ships at each squadron that attain the highest overall operational readiness and performance.

During its deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, Newport News steamed nearly 33,000 nautical miles and made port calls to Tromso, Norway; Faslane, Scotland; and Rota, Spain. Thirty-nine personnel earned their submarine warfare devices – commonly referred to as “dolphins” – during the deployment and the Newport News Sailors racked up more than 350 individual watchstation qualifications at sea.

“I’m tremendously proud of this elite crew for its tireless pursuit of excellence over the past six months at sea,” said Fontenot. “From planning, to material management, to mission execution, this team of dedicated professionals ensured Newport News was in the right place, at the right time, with the right readiness to safely accomplish European Command’s highest priority missions with no missed operational days.

“Newport News and her Sailors showed once again on this deployment why our Navy counts on us to be a stalwart defender of freedom around the world,” he continued. “Of course, our deep gratitude goes out to our families and loved ones for their steadfast support of our Sailors and the sacrifices they made back home so that we could execute our tasking. We couldn’t be happier to be back home with them to celebrate the New Year.”

Hannah Clarke and her husband, Lt.j.g. Daniel Clarke were recognized with the ceremonial first kiss on the pier, while Petty Officer 2nd Class Forrest Keith was recognized with the first hug with his family – wife Chelsea and children Ceinwyn, 6, and Christopher, 4.

Also recognized during the homecoming were Newport News Sailor of the Year Petty Officer 1st Class Spencer Heline and his wife, Kristy Dowd; Junior Sailor of the Year Petty Officer 2nd Class Marcus Stanfield and his wife, Atlagracia Lara-Stanfield; and Bluejacket of the Year Seaman Keil Gerard and his significant other, Katelyn Deibert.

USS Newport News was commissioned on June 3, 1989. SSN 750 is the third U.S. Navy warship named for the Virginia shipbuilding city Newport News, following a World War I cargo ship and a Des Moines-class heavy cruiser that was in service from 1948-1978. The submarine Newport News has a crew of more than 130 personnel, is more than 361 feet long with a beam of more than 32 feet.

Fast-attack submarines are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence. They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Fast-attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or response to regional crises.


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