The nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Tucson (SSN 770) departed on a Western Pacific deployment from its homeport of Pearl Harbor March 21.
According to Cmdr. James Pitts, Tucson’s commanding officer, the crew prepared by conducting standard pre-deployment upkeep and maintenance.
“In the last few months we went through a fairly sizable maintenance period. We needed to make sure the equipment is up to standards for deployment,” said Pitts. “We also held routine and operational training to help us support the nation and [U.S.] 7th Fleet
He said overall, the crew handled the maintenance and training superbly.
Pitts added that Tucson is one of the more advanced 688 improved-class submarines on the waterfront. They have one of the most advanced fire control systems, sonar systems and the commercial-off-the-shelf technology (COTS) on board, helping the crew work more efficiently and make routine repairs easier.
“The equipment on board is dramatically different from when I did my first two deployments,” said Pitts. "The COTS equipment now is more intuitive to the guys and much more Windows-based, so everyone catches on faster. We also have equipment to help us with our contact management, helping us be more responsive to other ships around us and recognizing them a little sooner,” he said.
The commanding officer also stated there is another major factor that will help his crew get through this six-month deployment - their families.
“It is tremendously important for families to support the crew, because it helps the crew keep a high morale,” said Pitts. “We like to keep the letters and e-mails coming to keep a breath of fresh air from home while we are away for a fairly long time,” Pitts said.
While family members waved goodbye, Yeoman 1st Class Darin Matrazzo walked down the brow to give one last kiss to his wife and daughter.
“It is sad to leave my daughter and wife behind,” said Matrazzo. “My wife made me a big photo album, and we plan on exchanging e-mails and audio tapes.”
Whether it is to support the nation’s interest or supporting the 7th Fleet’s mission, Pitts said there is one primary goal.
“The ultimate goal is to bring everyone back safely, and I look forward to sailing with the crew and having a great deployment,” he said.
Walking off the pier, the executive officer’s spouse said the deployment would be bittersweet, however, while he is gone she plans to stay busy to keep her mind off her husband’s absence.
“Our officers' wives are wonderful. We are going to stay active in the family support group, field trips and get togethers,” she said. “I am sad to see him leave, but I am happy because he believes in what he is doing and this deployment is what he wants,” she concluded.
By Journalist 2nd Class Corwin M. Colbert, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs