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(Left) USS San Francisco(SSN-711) is escorted by two harbor tugs to Apra Harbor, Guam, prior to her extensive maintenance period. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark A. Leonesio. (Right) Crewmembers of USS New Hampshire(SSN-778) line the boat during the commissioning ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Photo by Jeremy Lambert.

The past few months have seen many milestones for the U.S. Submarine Force — from christenings to retirements and many things in between.

In early October, USS San Francisco (SSN-711) successfully returned to the water after spending a little over two years in dry dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Wash. This marked the first time San Francisco was waterborne since entering drydock for repair following her 2005 grounding. She is scheduled to report to her new homeport of San Diego, Calif., in late Spring 2009.

On Oct. 25, 2008, USS New Hampshire (SSN-778) was commissioned at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine. New Hampshire is the fifth Virginia-class submarine. A special group of students from Garrison Elementary, in Dover, N.H., who began a letter writing campaign in 2004 to have the submarine named after their state, were in attendance for the event. Cheryl McGuinness served as the ship’s sponsor, and gave the order to man the ship, “Officers and crew of USS New Hampshire, come aboard our ship, and bring her to life.” McGuinness is the widow of Lt. Cmdr. Thomas McGuinness, a veteran Navy pilot and a co-pilot on American Airlines Flight 11 that was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.

The NR-1 inactivation ceremony was held on Nov. 21, 2008, at Naval Submarine Base New London. NR-1 was the oldest nuclear-powered submarine in the U.S. Navy and was inactivated after nearly 40 years of service. Her missions mainly included search, object recovery, geological survey, oceanographic research, and installation and maintenance of underwater equipment. The keynote speaker was retired Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, the officer in charge of NR-1 from May 1982 to April 1985. “NR-1 provided a tremendous scope for innovation and invention,” said Giambastiani, “She was truly a window to the world under the sea.” NR-1’s unique ability to remain at one site and completely map or search an area with a high degree of accuracy has been a valuable asset to the Navy over the years.

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(Left) NR-1 travels up the Thames River in Groton, Conn., for the final time. Photo by John Narewski. (Right) The
attack submarine
New Mexico(SSN-779) is christened in front of nearly 1,700 guests and crewmembers.
Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Todd A. Schaffer.

The Navy’s newest Virginia-class attack submarine New Mexico (SSN-779) was christened Dec. 13, 2008, during a ceremony at Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va. Cmdr. Mark Prokopius, the ship’s first commanding officer, stood by with his crew of 120 officers and sailors as Mrs. Cynthia “Cindy” Giambastiani, the ship’s sponsor and wife of former-Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, christened the submarine, bringing the Navy’s next Virginia-class submarine one step closer to life.

The Submarine Force finalized a critical piece for Virginia-class cost savings on Dec. 22, 2008, when the Virginia-class Block III contract was signed. It is a five-year, $14 billion Multi-Year Procurement (MYP) contract for eight Virginia-class submarines. The contract, the third, or Block III, for the Virginia-class, calls for one ship per year in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 and FY 2010 and two per year in FY 2011, FY 2012, and FY 2013. The contract also meets the Virginia-class Program’s mandate to reduce acquisition costs by approximately 20 percent for the FY 2012 ships.

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(Left) Rear Adm. William Hilarides, Program Executive Officer for Submarines observes the signing of the Virginia-class Block III contract. Photo by Julius Tolentino. (Right) USS La Jolla(SSN-701) with the deep submergence rescue vehicle Mystic (DSRV-1) attached. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Wes Eplen.

On Sept. 30, 2008, the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System’s (SRDRS) Rescue Capable System (RCS) replaced the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle Mystic (DSRV-1) as the U.S. Navy’s deep-submergence submarine rescue asset. Mystic and the DSRV program began deactivation on Oct. 1. The formal retirement ceremony for the DSRV program was held on Feb. 13, 2009.

USS Ohio (SSGN-726)(BLUE) completed the first SSGN deployment and returned home to Bangor, Wash., last December. Ohio (GOLD) departed Naval Base Kitsap Oct. 14, 2007, for its maiden deployment, which began a month ahead of schedule. In 2008, Ohio (BLUE) traveled to Guam to perform the first in theater crew swap in over 20 years. Her return home marks the completion of a historic first deployment as an SSGN and leaves the Navy with high expectations for future SSGN deployments. USS Michigan (SSGN-727) and USS Florida (SSGN-728) are on their maiden SSGN deployments, while USS Georgia (SSGN-729) will begin her first deployment later this year.

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(Left) The guided-missile submarine USSOhio(SSGN-726) visits Naval Station Pearl Harbor on the return leg of its historic first deployment as a guided-missile submarine. Photo by Lt. Cmdr. David Benham. (Right) Capt. Charles Doty, commanding officer of USS Michigan(SSGN-727)(GOLD), escorts Rear Adm. Nora Tyson, Commander, Logistics Group, Western Pacific, and Rear Adm. Ng Chee Peng of the Singaporean Navy, on a tour of the submarine during a recent port visit to Singapore. U.S. Navy Photo.

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