USS Tucson (SSN 770), foreground, passes USS Hawaii (SSN 776) as Tucson departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 5. (U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven Khor)

PEARL HARBOR - Long hugs and kisses from family and friends were seen on the submarine piers on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Tucson (SSN 770) departed Sept. 5, for a deployment to the Western Pacific region.

Tucson's commanding officer, Cmdr. Ted O'Harrah commented that the submarine and her crew are excited to get underway to have the opportunity to operate forward deployed in support of national objectives.

"I am very proud of Tucson's crew for the hard work and dedication they have shown in preparing for an overseas deployment," said O'Harrah. O'Harrah said of the 133 Sailors who will be deploying, just over half of the Sailors will be on their first deployment.

O'Harrah said Tucson's goal is to safely and effectively conduct coordinated operations to help establish conditions for regional stability. Throughout the deployment, the crew will train to improve skills, knowledge and experience.

O'Harrah added that he is grateful to the crew's family and friends because without their support and sacrifice, Tucson could not be successful. For Logistic Specialist Seaman Cory Thuringer, a first deployment brings much enthusiasm and excitement.

"Everyone always asks, are you ready for deployment? I said what is ready? I'll find out later!" joked Thuringer.

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.