NORFOLK, Va. - The Sailors of the USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) are back home after a six-month deployment.
The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine returned to Naval Station Norfolk on Friday.
Under the command of Cmdr. Bennett Christman, New Hampshire returns from a deployment where it executed the chief of naval operations' maritime strategy by supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.
“I am incredibly proud of the crew’s hard work,” said Christman. “Under stress, family separation, and without normal liberty, they remained consummate professionals who enthusiastically tackled the toughest problems with ingenuity and drive. They return fulfilled by their accomplishments on several missions vital to national security.”
According to Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear Power) 2nd Class Andrew Oliphant, every New Hampshire Sailor played a critical role during the boat’s deployment.
“From the food service attendant to the engineering watch supervisor to the commanding officer, we all have an important role in ship operations,” said Oliphant. “From damage control, to qualifications, to conducting national tasking, every person plays a vital role and it’s inspiring and motivating to be a part of this great mission.”
According to Fire Control Technician Seaman Pedro Hernandez, New Hampshire Sailors also participated in the Blue Nose Navy tradition, a line-crossing ceremony held when a ship or boat enters the Arctic Circle.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Hampshire successfully navigated enough mileage to cross the globe 1.65 times,” said Hernandez. “This includes reaching the milestone favored in our great American Navy’s history known as Blue Nose. The Submarine Force is already a small percentage of the fleet, and to add more Sailors into the brotherhood, who have faced what it takes to get to that point, to claim that title, is a small victory that will be with us forever.”
Samara Christman, wife of Cmdr. Bennet Christman, spoke on the unique difficulties faced by Sailors and families while being deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are so proud of our Sailors and everything they have accomplished during this deployment,” said Samara Christman. “We know the work they do is vital, but we are so ready to have them home with us again. I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and deployments are always challenging. Going through a deployment during a pandemic makes everything far more difficult. I was consistently amazed and impressed by the ways in which our families came together to support each other from afar. I can’t say enough good things about this group of families or Sailors.”
New Hampshire was also the first submarine to deploy with a 3D printer kit developed by Naval Sea Systems Command. The printer gave New Hampshire the ability to fabricate several temporary parts while deployed.
During the deployment, New Hampshire steamed more than 40,000 nautical miles and conducted brief stops in Faslane, Scotland and Haakonsvern, Norway.
Twenty-three enlisted Sailors and five officers earned their submarine warfare qualification, known as “dolphins,” while three officers were promoted, 17 enlisted Sailors were advanced to the next paygrade and seven Sailors reenlisted.
The submarine is 377 feet long and 34 feet wide, and weighs about 7,900 tons when submerged. Underwater, it can reach speeds in excess of 25 knots.