USS Columbus (SSN 762) approaches the piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 1. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Shaun Griffin)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The crew of Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Columbus (SSN 762) was welcomed home by friends and family awaiting their return at the historic submarine piers on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 1.

Columbus successfully completed a six-month Western Pacific deployment while conducting operations in support of national security.

"I cannot express in mere words, how proud I am of my crew,” said Cmdr. Albert A Alarcon, a native of Lancaster, California, and Columbus commanding officer. “Their commitment to each other and to our success across every forward-deployed submarine mission area was beyond exemplary.”

While on deployment, 40 submariners earned the right to wear the submarine warfare insignia, also known as "dolphins."

About 70 percent of the crew rotated out of the Columbus following her last deployment, but that didn’t stop the crew from coming together to complete the mission said Machinist Mate (Weapons) Master Chief (SS) Leonard Anderson, a native of Oakland, California and Columbus chief of the boat.

“The real reward for came as the crew bonded and conducted a wide spectrum of submarine operations in challenging environments,” said Anderson. “For many of the crew, this was their first deployment, so this completed deployment is a testament to the crew’s hard work and perseverance.”

During the six-month deployment, Columbus performed three national tasking periods, two theater operation periods, and a multinational exercise. Columbus also enjoyed four port visits, including Singapore and Guam.

"The amount of buy-in the crew exhibited was outstanding,” said Anderson. “Every man did his part to accomplish qualifications and ultimately meet all tasking."

While on deployment Columbus traveled over 34,000 nautical miles crossing the equator twice making 135 Columbus crew members new shellbacks.

After all the Columbus accomplished on deployment, the crew was happy to be home and reflected on what made the deployment successful.

"Deployment is not a sprint, it is a marathon, so you have to take it day by day just like anything else but today we completed that marathon,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SS) Ralph Joseph, a native of Orlando and Sailor assigned to Columbus. “You have to learn to rely on each other rather than trying to do it all yourself. When we ran into obstacles, we overcome it together."

Columbus is one of the most advanced undersea vessels in the world, and its missions include deployment of special forces, minelaying, precision land attack, or anti-submarine or surface warfare while remaining undetected.