By Lt. j.g. David Oh, USS Key West Public Affairs and Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Michael Doan, USS Emory S. Land Public Affairs
PHUKET, Thailand (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722) arrived in Phuket, Thailand, and moored alongside the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) for a visit as part of its Western Pacific deployment May 14.
"The crew enjoyed getting back to the mission of supporting submarines and surface ships that were pierside in Guam following a four-month docking availability," said Capt. Robert Clark, the commanding officer of Emory S. Land. "Our visit to Thailand gives us the opportunity to have a submarine alongside and take our service and support to another level."
During the visit USS Emory S. Land conducted a tended mooring with USS Key West.
Additionally, the tender will be proofing a new procedure for fender deployments which will provide more flexible future operational capabilities. Fenders provide a buffer between the tender and the tended unit to ensure the safety of both vessels.
Though forward deployed from Guam, this was the Key West's first stop in Phuket since shifting home ports and the anticipation amongst the 160 man crew was palpable.
"I'm extremely proud of the crew and what they've accomplished," said Cmdr. John Thompson, the commanding officer of Key West. "They've developed immensely over the past year and we are ready to proudly represent our nation and contribute to maintaining a U.S. presence in the region."
Master Chief Electronics Technician Eric Baker, Key West's chief of the boat expressed similar sentiments.
"These men have worked very hard in the past year to become a capable team of professional Sailor," said Baker. "They are ready for this well-deserved port visit and are eager to explore and take in the culture and sights that Thailand has to offer."
While in Phuket, Sailors from Emory S. Land and Key West, are scheduled to volunteer at a local orphanage, helping with basic maintenance and playing with the children.
For many of Key West and Emory S. Land's Sailors, this was their first visit to Thailand.
"Temples, elephant rides, snorkeling - I'm going to do as much as I can while I'm here," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Morris, USS Key West.
"I have never ridden an elephant before so I am doing that as part of a tour group," said Legalman 1st Class Demetric Hart, USS Emory S. Land.
Measuring more than 360 feet long and displacing more than 6,900 tons when submerged, Key West remains one of the stealthiest, most formidable submarines in the world. Key West is capable of conducting anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
With the growing importance of the Pacific theater, Key West's crew remain eager to distinguish themselves as an essential component of the U.S. 7th Fleet.
Emory S. Land is a forward deployed expeditionary submarine tender on an extended deployment conducting coordinated tended moorings and afloat maintenance in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet area of responsibility.