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Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead, left, presents a Meritorious Unit Commendation flag to ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana(SSBN-743) BLUE crew commanding officer Cmdr. Blake Converse and GOLD crew commanding officer Capt. Shannon Kawane. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Gretchen Albrecht.

title of article: CNO Presents Meritorious Unit Commendation to USS Louisiana (SSBN-743)
by Petty Officer 2nd Class Gretchen Albrecht

The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, presented USS Louisiana (SSBN-743) crew members the Meritorious Unit Commendation Feb. 17, 2009, while visiting Sailors and installations in the Pacific northwest.

Adm. Roughead expressed his gratitude and congratulated the submarine’s BLUE and GOLD crews.

“It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to present this award,” said Roughead. “The pennant and citation do not say enough about the great work you have done or about the standards that you as professionals, as Sailors, as submariners uphold.”

Louisiana was acknowledged for meritorious service and superior performance across the spectrum of strategic submarine operations setting fleet standards of excellence for administration, engineering, supply, personnel programs and community support.

“There was a significant amount of time underway conducting the strategic deterrent mission, with very little maintenance opportunities. That is probably what set us apart,” said Cmdr. Blake Converse, commanding officer Louisiana (BLUE). “I have always been in awe and impressed by the crews’ hard work, discipline and dedication.”

Crew members assigned to Louisiana were called upon for numerous strategic deterrent patrols between January 2007 and February 2008. Both crews were at sea for a combined total of 252 days, and spent their off time keeping their skills sharp and helping out in the community.

“The fact that we were able to step up when needed, maintaining morale and performance, is a tribute to our Sailors’ character and the support they are getting from the home front,” said Converse. “I am pretty impressed and thankful the families were there to support the guys through everything because it was challenging.”

Both crews assembled on the pier to watch Roughead present Capt. Shannon Kawane, commanding officer Louisiana (GOLD) and Converse with the official citation and pennant. Louisiana is the first ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) to be awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation in eight years.

“It was a big honor to have the CNO present this award,” said Petty Officer 1st Class(SS) Justin Carr, leading petty officer of Reactor Controls Division (BLUE). “We feel like the people in Washington D.C. know and appreciate how much the crew did and how much blood, sweat and tears went into getting this award.




Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead speaks to Sailors assigned to the ballistic missile submarine USSLouisiana(SSBN-743) after presenting both BLUE and GOLD crews with the Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Gretchen Albrecht.

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Petty Officer 2nd Class Gretchen M. Albrecht is a member of Commander, Submarine Group NINE Public Affairs Office.