BANGOR, Wash. (May 6, 2012) Family members await the return of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, following its strategic deterrent patrol. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ed Early)

BANGOR, Wash. - A sunny day provided an ideal setting for the return of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), whose Blue Crew came home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor on May 6 after a 56-day strategic deterrent patrol.

Family members eagerly awaited a glimpse of their loved ones as Louisiana pulled in at Bangor's Delta Pier for the first time since March 12. It marked the Blue Crew's first patrol in nearly a year, as Louisiana had spent most of 2011 in an extended refit period.

"I was thoroughly impressed with the extremely talented and motivated Sailors who provide the true strength of Louisiana's commitment to strategic deterrence," said Cmdr. Paul Varnadore, who completed his first patrol since taking command of the Blue Crew in September 2011.

Seven Blue Crew Sailors qualified in submarines during Louisiana's deterrent patrol, earning the right to wear the submariner's traditional "dolphins." Five other Sailors from USS Nevada (SSBN 733) and USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735), part of a contingent of 19 Sailors from other submarines who embarked for the patrol, also earned their dolphins while aboard.

In addition, 44 Blue Crew Sailors qualified across 33 different watch stations, and eight first class petty officers became board eligible for chief petty officer.

Louisiana is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, providing the survivable leg of the nation's strategic deterrent forces.