By Kevin Copeland, commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs
NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Helena (SSN 725) returned to its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk from a deployment May 15.
Under the command of Cmdr. Jeffrey E. Lamphear, the submarine returned from the U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility, where the crew executed the chief of naval operation's maritime strategy in conducting maritime security operations supporting national security interests.
During the deployment Helena steamed more than 38,500 nautical miles in conducting multiple missions vital to national security. In between taskings, they were able to conduct port visits in Bahrain; Gibraltar; Aksaz, Turkey; Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; and Souda Bay, Crete.
"The crew performed exceptionally well during their six-month deployment," said Lamphear, who will relinquish command of Helena on June 15. "They demonstrated the submarine force's professionalism and dedication while showcasing the submarine's endurance, reach, and multi-mission capability. Without any external logistical support, the Helena crew conducted extended operations and successfully completed all mission taskings. This could not have been done without the extraordinary efforts and skills of the crew. We also enjoyed some well-deserved liberty, providing a visible demonstration of the U.S. commitment to our allies and promoting stability in the regions visited."
Despite the high operational tempo during the deployment, some the Helena crew was able to attain personal and professional milestones.
"We had seven Sailors advanced to petty officer third class, seven to petty officer second class and two to petty officer first class," said Lamphear. "We also had 29 enlisted Sailors achieve their submarine warfare qualifications and earned their silver dolphins, and had seven officers earn their gold dolphins after becoming submarine warfare qualified.
"In addition, since Helena has been underway we had five babies born stateside, so the new fathers are eager to see their sons and daughters upon return. And that is what our first focus will be in returning home. We want to ensure that our Sailors get the down-time they deserve to recharge and reconnect with family and friends."
Fast-attack submarines like USS Helena are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.
The submarine is designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare - from open ocean anti-submarine warfare to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to projecting power ashore with special operation forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.
Helena is the 38th Los Angeles-class attack submarine and fourth ship to bear the name of the capital city, Helena, Montana. The submarine was built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, Connecticut, and commissioned July 11, 1987. The 360-foot ship has a current crew compliment of 15 officers and 129 enlisted Sailors, and displaces more than 7,100 tons of water.