PITTSBURGH (NNS) -- The commanding officer of USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720) and seven crew members are participating in a five-day visit to the "Steel City" Oct. 4 - 9.
The submarine, which has the motto "Heart of Steel," enjoys a strong relationship with the "Steel City."
During their visit, the crew will embark on a myriad of activities ranging from visiting with Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps students attending Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University, and students attending Penn Hills High School. USS Pittsburgh Sailors will also attend a groundbreaking of a Reserve Center, meeting with Navy League members, and participating in pre-football activities prior to the start of the Pittsburgh Steelers game at Heinz Field on Oct. 7.
"My crew and I always look forward to returning to the Steel City. It means a lot for us to be able to show our thanks to the city that provides us so much support," said Cmdr. Mike Savageaux, commanding officer, USS Pittsburgh.
Judy Halleran, former president, Navy League of the United States, Pittsburgh Council added that the Sailors' visit will make their city "swell with pride".
"The citizens of Pittsburgh rarely get an opportunity to see a Sailor walking down the street and their visit will make our land-locked city fill with pride when several crew members of USS Pittsburgh visit us," said Halleran.
Other namesake activities planned include Savageaux's participation in a coin toss during the Carnegie Mellon University football game against Denison University on Oct. 6.
Halleran also added that the Pittsburgh Sailors will have an opportunity to interact with students attending three universities and a high school. "The visits planned to the local high school and universities will create some life-changing experiences for these students," said Halleran.
Capt. Thomas M. Calabrese, commanding officer, Professor of Naval Science, Naval ROTC Steel City Unit echoed Halleran's sentiment and spoke from personal experience on how important these namesake visits are for not only the crew but their supporters.
"As a former commanding officer of both USS Michigan and USS Florida, I'm happy to help the commanding officer and crew to maintain their link to their namesake city," said Calabrese. "We enthusiastically welcome them to Pittsburgh and are excited about any opportunity that we get to increase interaction with the fleet."
Calabrese added that his midshipmen also benefit from these types of namesake visits.
"Cmdr. Savageaux is bringing a representation from his crew, both officer and enlisted and that exposure helps my midshipmen grow professionally," said Calabrese. "This visit provides a wonderful learning and training experience for them."
In addition to the coin toss, Savageaux and his crew will participate in another football-themed event when they partake in pre-football activities prior to the start of the Pittsburgh Steelers home game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"When the crew and I visited our namesake city in December 2010 to celebrate our ship's 25th birthday, the men had an opportunity to be recognized at a Steelers game," said Savageaux. "Having that recognition from the Steelers fans meant a lot to our Sailors, and I look forward to sharing that chance with more of my crew."
During their visit to Steeler territory, Savageaux will display the "Terrible Towel" for fans. USS Pittsburgh shares a connection with their namesake's city football team by displaying the "Terrible Towel" atop the submarine during recent returns from scheduled deployments, and during the last Steelers Super Bowl game in 2011. The towel is a fan symbol created in 1975 by then-Steelers radio broadcaster Myron Cope.
Brett Keisel, Pittsburgh Steeler defensive end, added that Pittsburgh is home to many service members and recognizing them for their service provides a lot of pride for Pittsburgh.
"Coming from a military background, I have friends and family who have been in the military; I just have a great respect for those guys. Those guys put their lives on the line for our freedoms and they're our heroes," said Keisel, who added that the Steelers recently recognized those who have served and currently serving at a special Heroes at Heinz Field event and discussed the importance of recognizing those who serve.
"It was great to get there and tell them 'thank you' for their service," said Keisel. "There's a lot of pride in Pittsburgh."
Like Keisel, Doug Legursky, Pittsburgh Steelers right guard also has family members who have served or are serving, and identifies with the Sailors from USS Pittsburgh.
"My father was in the military. My grandfather was in the military. My brother-in-law is in the military. I come from a military background," said Legursky. "The attitude that Pittsburgh has, is all about working hard and working together for a goal, and that's just what the military embodies-fighting for your country, fighting for the right things, and fighting together to reach your goal. There's no better example of that than the city of Pittsburgh and the military service."
Pittsburgh, commissioned Nov. 23, 1985, was built by General Dynamics Electric Boat Division, and is the fourth American warship to be named for the city of Pittsburgh otherwise known as the "Steel City".
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.