Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guam Welcomes USS Chicago

The Los Angeles class fast attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721) arrives at her new homeport at Naval Base Guam after completing a change of homeport from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.


Chicago (SSN 721) arrived in Guam April 19 where it is assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron 15 as one of three forward-deployed submarines. 

Chicago replaces USS Houston (SSN 713), a fast-attack submarine that transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in January.

Cmdr. Nick Tilbrook, Chicago's commanding officer, thanked attendees for the warm welcome and the support in ensuring a smooth transition. 

"This has been a long time coming," Tilbrook said, "For the last two years, Chicago has been in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard going through a very demanding maintenance period."

Chicago completed an engineered refueling overhaul in October at the shipyard. While in overhaul, the ship's systems were upgraded to ensure Chicago will be able to meet future tasking being forward deployed to Guam.

"You have joined a small but distinguished group who play a vital role in promoting peace, stability and security in the very dynamic Asia-Pacific region," said Rear Adm. Paul Bushong, commander of Joint Region Marianas, during the arrival ceremony. "Each underway and deployment you make ensures the security of America and its citizens and protects our way of life. Each exercise in that you participate helps strengthen our partnership with regional allies and deters aggression simply through your forward deployed presence." 

Forward-deployed submarines are readily capable of meeting global operational requirements. Guam's strategic location enhances military force flexibility and allows freedom of action, regional engagement, crisis response and deterrence while helping to fulfill commitments to U.S. allies and partners to protect the nation's security.

"I can't think of a better submarine homeport to operate out than here in Guam," Tilbrook said. "The operations out here are fantastic and the people are so friendly. We had a lot of people transfer to the Chicago because they knew the submarine was coming to Guam."

During the arrival ceremony, Capt. Scott Minium, commander of Submarine Squadron 15, emphasized the support of the local community, other commands and the submarines' hometown sponsors in the 721 Club.

"You are the envy of the rest of the submarine force when it comes to hometown support," Minium said. "There is no other organization that has anywhere near the reputation of the 721 Club when it comes to supporting our submarines."

The 721 Club, the successor to the commissioning committee for Chicago, provides support and contact with the crew and families of the submarine. The 721 Club's activities have included contributions and support for the USS Chicago Wives' Club, holiday gifts for all the children of the crew, "ditty bags" of gifts and useful items for all personnel, and sponsorship of an annual holiday party for the officers and crew of Chicago. 

Chicago was commissioned 1986 and is the 34th Los Angeles-class submarine. It is the fourth ship to bear the name of Chicago, the third most populous city in the U.S. 

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