PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Sailors hugged and kissed their family and friends as they said goodbye on the submarine piers of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) departed Dec. 19 for a deployment to the Western Pacific region.
North Carolina's commanding officer, Cmdr. Richard Rhinehart, commented that the submarine and crew are ready and eager to head west on a second Western Pacific deployment.
"We depart with some of the finest Sailors our nation has ever put to sea on board one of the most technologically advanced platforms," said Rhinehart.
Rhinehart said the crew has spent more than six months getting the boat in top material condition while undergoing advanced training and certification in core submarine operational mission areas. The Sailors are focused on the challenges ahead and excited about the opportunity to execute tasking.
Among the 126 enlisted and 17 officers on board, many of them will be on their first deployment.
While underway, Rhinehart said North Carolina's goal is to contribute to the war-fighting readiness in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, and be ready to respond to the nation's needs in any time of crisis.
As they deploy, North Carolina's crew will continue to build relationships with allies through theater security cooperation activities, and work with allies to build new war-fighting capabilities.
"I am truly privileged to be in command of the North Carolina and her crew," said Rhinehart. "The Sailors of the USS North Carolina are an incredibly talented group of men. I'm very proud of every one of them and what they have accomplished as we prepare for this milestone event."
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, Conn., and Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., 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 www.navy.mil/local/subpac/.