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USS Columbia returns from deployment

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The USS Columbia (SSN 771), named in honor of the S.C. capital along with cities in Missouri and Illinois, returned from a six-month deployment in the Western Pacific on Wednesday.

Family members and friends welcomed the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine into its homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Sailors aboard the fast-attack submarine USS Columbia (SSN 771) prepare to moor at the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Wednesday following a six-month Western Pacific deployment. (Photo/U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lee)Commanding officer David L. Edgerton credited his professional crew with a successful mission in support of national security.

“Their resourceful tenacity allowed us to remain operational any time we faced a challenge,” Edgerton said in a news release. “I admire their positive attitudes, resiliency, and tight-knit camaraderie, even while deployed from friends and family. It was a privilege to spend the past six months with them.”

Commissioned in 1995, Columbia was the last 688-class submarine built at Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Conn. It is capable of missions including long-range Tomahawk strike operations, anti-submarine and surface ship tracking operations and surveillance and intelligence gathering.

During the deployment, 10 Columbia sailors advanced to the next pay grade and seven officers were promoted. Twenty sailors also earned their submarine warfare qualification, known as “earning your dolphins.”

“Columbia was fortunate to have a vast number of crew members with prior deployment experience,” said Jason Karns, master chief electronics technician and Columbia’s chief of the boat. “As many of our first-time deployers qualified in junior watch stations, our senior crew members were able to move up to supervisory-level qualifications, developing them for future leadership roles.”

Columbia also made port visits to Japan.

“We operated throughout the Pacific conducting operations and exercises, and our port visits in Sasebo and Yokosuka fostered our already strong partnership with Japan,” Edgerton said. “This gave us the opportunity to showcase the capabilities of a U.S. fast-attack submarine manned by our remarkable submariners.”

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