USS Jacksonville (SSN 699) returns to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam June 18. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven Khor)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Friends and families of the crew of USS Jacksonville (SSN 699) gathered at the submarine piers to welcome back the Los Angeles-class submarine as she returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing a deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf, June 18.

"I am incredibly proud of the crew of the warship Jacksonville. These Sailors have impressed me from day one, and I could not be more proud of their outstanding efforts," said Cmdr. Richard Seif, Jacksonville's commanding officer. "Their sustained forward presence in two different theaters contributed significantly to the Navy's combat readiness and out nation's security," said Seif.

During the deployment, 31 Sailors earned their designation as qualified in submarines and now wear their dolphin warfare insignia. Along with this accomplishment, more than 60 Sailors also qualified in their senior watch stations.

Seif said despite half of the crew being their very first deployment, they are an experienced team of professional submariners and it's really an honor to lead them.

Seif added that despite the challenges of deployment, the crew could not have done it without the tremendous strength, love and support of the Jacksonville families. "I'd like to especially thank our command Ombudsman, Kim Cowdrey and the Family Readiness Group for their outstanding support," he said.

When the deployment was finally complete, the crew came home to a waiting crowd of smiling family and friends at the pier.

"It's great to be back home. The Sailors and their families are all looking forward to a well deserved stand down," said Sief. As for the families, many could not hold back their joy and relief.

"I am super proud of him. He has done a fantastic job. It's been a long, tough deployment, but he's home, and I'm happy," said Jackie Combs, a Jacksonville spouse.

Commissioned in May 1981, Jacksonville is named for Jacksonville, Fla. Nicknamed "The Bold One," she is a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine that is 360-feet long and displaces 6,900 tons. She can be fitted with Mk-48 torpedoes and harpoon missiles.