Face of Defense
Face of Defense: USS
Pennsylvania Sets Patrol Record
By Navy Chief Petty Officer Ahron Arendes,
Commander, Submarine Group 9.
Bangor, Washington – (AFPS)
– June 30, 2014 – The Trident strategic missile submarine USS Pennsylvania
manned by its “Gold” crew returned home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor here June 14
following a 140-day, record-breaking patrol.
Navy Rear Adm. Dietrich Kuhlmann, the commander of
Submarine Group 9, right, congratulates the USS Pennsylvania’s “Gold” crew
commanding officer Navy Cmdr. Tiger Pittman, left, following the Pennsylvania’s
successful 140-day strategic deterrent patrol, a new record for the longest
strategic deterrent patrol completed by an Ohio-class strategic missile
Tridents are nuclear-powered, Ohio-class submarines. The Pennsylvania set a
new record for the longest patrol completed by an Ohio-class ballistic missile
The Ohio-class submarines have two crews, called Blue and
Gold, which rotate patrols. One crew is at sea usually for 60 to 90 days, while
the other trains ashore. In this way, the vessels can be employed at sea 70
percent of the time, when not undergoing scheduled maintenance in port.
The Pennsylvania’s “Gold” crew patrol, which began in January,
is not only the longest for an Ohio-class submarine, but the longest since
beginning of the Poseidon C3 ballistic missile program in the early 1970s,
according to records maintained by the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile
Weapon System Evaluation program. "It's an honor. It was a challenge. The job
kept calling for us to stay at sea but we were ready, willing and able. So we
stayed at sea and finished the mission," said Navy Cmdr. Tiger Pittman, the
Pennsylvania’s “Gold” crew commanding officer. "I'm incredibly proud of my crew,”
Pittman added. “I've been amazed by their resiliency throughout the entire time,
and not only the crew, but the families. We leave and we serve, but they stay
home and they serve as well."
Trident submarines -- nicknamed “Boomers” -- carry as many as
24 Trident II D-5 nuclear ballistic missiles. At 560 feet long and 42 feet wide,
they are the largest submarines in the U.S. Navy’s inventory.
The Pennsylvania’s Navy hull classification symbol is SSBN
735. The SS denotes “Ship, Submersible.” The B denotes “ballistic missile,” and
the N denotes “nuclear powered.”
As Pennsylvania emerged from an extended maintenance period
in 2013, the patrol had originally been planned to be longer than is considered
normal for Trident strategic missile submarine. The crew spent nearly the entire
patrol underway, since unlike most other Navy vessels, Trident submarines don't
make routine port visits except when returning to home port. "USS Pennsylvania
‘Gold's’ patrol is an exceptional example of the flexibility and capability of
the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine. We had always expected this to be a
longer than normal patrol and a highly-capable crew made it happen," said Navy
Capt. Mark VanYe, chief of staff at Commander, Submarine Group 9. "When
operational commitments changed, we knew the exceptional sailors serving on
Pennsylvania and their families back home were up to the task.
"They have excelled across their entire mission set," VanYe
added. "We are glad now to have them home and congratulate them on a job
Upon their return home, Pennsylvania’s “Gold” crew was
greeted by Commander of Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet Navy Rear Adm.
Phillip Sawyer, who wanted to personally thank them and congratulate them on a
job well-done. "The SSBN strategic deterrent patrol is the most important unit
mission in the submarine force and vital to the defense our nation," Sawyer said.
"The Pennsylvania ‘Gold’ crew was on the front line of deterrence, conducting
critical missions from the time the ship got underway until returning home and I
couldn't be prouder of what they have accomplished."
The USS Pennsylvania, part of the nation’s strategic
deterrence forces, is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines
home-ported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
Commander, Submarine Group 9
Tight-knit Trident Submariners Conduct Strategic Deterrence Missions