USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) arrives in Yokosuka, Japan, Aug. 8 for a port visit during its Western Pacific deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (EXW) Sebastian McCormack)

YOKOSUKA, JAPAN - Patrolling the oceans may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear "New Mexico," but maybe it should be.

The Los Angeles class fast attack submarines USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) and USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) recently turned over duties in the U.S. Seventh Fleet area of responsibility, covering the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Albuquerque is finishing up a successful deployment filled with some significant milestones.

"I'm tremendously proud of what the crew accomplished over the last seven months," said Cmdr. Chris Cavanaugh, Albuquerque's commanding officer. "We demonstrated the full range of submarine capabilities and participated in several critical exercises with our Japanese and Thai allies. We also had several memorable port visits and special events, including the ship's 1000th dive and 30th birthday."

During the deployment Albuquerque visited Yokosuka, Japan, Sattahip, Thailand, Guam, Sasebo, Japan, and Saipan.

Two Albuquerque Sailors are very excited to be returning to the "Land of Enchantment" and enjoying the local food.

"I cannot wait until I hear the question every New Mexican knows, Red or Green? Two weeks home is not nearly long enough to indulge on all the food that our fine city has to offer," said Electrician's Mate 1st Class Michael Silva when asked about his upcoming trip home to Albuquerque after deployment. "I'm also looking forward to the International Balloon Fiesta. It's been almost seven years since I've seen the sight of hundreds of balloons in the night sky."

"My mother will be waiting in San Diego with some Hatch Green Chili and her green chili chicken enchiladas," said Chief Fire Control Technician Ramone Escalante, a graduate of West Mesa High School in Albuquerque, NM. "I look forward to going back home for Christmas, where I can take a jog around Mariposa Park and get a breakfast burrito from Golden Pride."

With a crew of approximately 135 Sailors, Santa Fe will conduct a multitude of missions and showcase the latest capabilities of the U.S. submarine fleet.

"Santa Fe is enthusiastic to be on deployment, conducting security and cooperation engagements with our closest allies," said Cmdr. Timothy J. Poe, Santa Fe's commanding officer. "The ship will practice multiple mission areas, while training the next generation of submariners on operations in the Western Pacific."

Measuring more than 360 feet long and weighing more than 6,900 tons when submerged, Albuquerque and Santa Fe are two of the most technologically advanced submarines in the world. These ships are capable of supporting a variety of missions including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, intelligence collection, and mine warfare.

While traveling around the world, both ships take pride in representing their namesake cities.

The crew of the Santa Fe is planning on carrying a New Mexico flag to the summit of Mount Fuji during their port visit in Yokosuka, Japan.

"Santa Fe has a very close relationship with our namesake city," said Poe. "Mayor Coss and Navy League Committee Chairman Rick Carver have been very supportive in strengthening those ties."

Albuquerque is the second U.S. warship to be named after the namesake town in New Mexico. She is homeported in San Diego.

Santa Fe is the second ship to be named in honor of the capital city of New Mexico. She is homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) arrives in Guam, May 7. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffrey Jay Price)