PEARL HARBOR (Dec. 14, 2011) Los Angeles-class submarine USS Tucson (SSN 770) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled six month Western Pacific deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Friends and families of the crew from the USS Tucson (SSN 770) gathered at the submarine piers on board Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to say goodbye as the Los Angeles-class submarine departed for a scheduled Western Pacific deployment Dec. 14.

"The Tucson crew is excited to get to sea and deploy to support the theater commander's tasking," said Cmdr. James O'Harrah, USS Tucson commanding officer. "We look forward to being superb ambassadors as we visit our allies in the region and hope to strengthen the critical partnerships that our country has there."

This is Tucson's second Western Pacific deployment since she underwent a 23-month depot modernization period at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va., that included upgrades in all of her electronic systems, a complete overhaul of all machinery systems and a full external refurbishing. During that time she conducted numerous sea trials and a port visit in San Diego before conducting an inter-fleet transfer back to Naval Station Pearl Harbor in 2008.

"Tucson is in fantastic condition thanks to the combined work of the Pearl Harbor team," said O'Harrah. "I appreciate the support of Submarine Squadron 7, Naval Submarine Support Center and the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard Fleet Maintenance Activity-Submarine."

Culinary Specialist Seaman Jacob Foreman, who joined the Navy May 4, 2011 and recently reported to Tucson Dec. 1, describes his feelings about his first deployment as "excited and apprehensive."

"I believe that this being my first deployment will truly show me what the Navy really is about," said Foreman. "With the small amount of time I have been on board Tucson, I am a little overwhelmed on how much there is to learn, but I have confidence that my fellow shipmates will assist me in starting my submarine training and gaining the experience of a deployment. I am also excited about visiting foreign ports and seeing the world."

Tucson is the second ship of the United States Navy to bear the name of the Arizona city. It is the 59th Los Angeles-class attack submarine and the 20th of the improved Los Angeles-class attack submarine to be built. Twelve vertical launch missile tubes for Tomahawk cruise missiles provide Tucson with great offensive capability. Retractable bow planes give the ship increased maneuverability and under ice surfacing potential.