SANTA RITA, Guam - Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) returned to its homeport of Apra Harbor, Guam, March 30, following a three-month forward-operating period to the Western Pacific.
Topeka conducted routine patrols throughout the Indo-Pacific region in support of maritime security operations that promote stability while maintaining key partnerships with allies across the region.
Family and friends were on the pier to greet their Sailors, welcoming them back to Guam following their period at sea. One family member traveled more than 7,800 miles to be on the pier to welcome her Sailor, Information Systems Technician Submarines 2nd Class Nate Carver.
"I flew out to Guam from Timberland, North Carolina to surprise my son," said Sonia Carver. "He has no idea I'm here. This is my first time to Guam and the first time anyone in our family has met Nate on the pier. My fiance passed away unexpectedly about five weeks ago, and [Nate] was looking forward to giving me away at our wedding. He was really upset he couldn't come home [to be there for me], so I came to him."
Also among the families were Jen Brinda and her son Gavin, who won the ceremonial "First Kiss" to share with husband and father Chief Electrician's Mate (Nuclear) Carlton Brinda.
"I'm very excited to have [my husband] back," said Brinda. "This is our last homecoming, so it's very special. It's also the first my son has seen; he just turned a year old."
Topeka, under the command of Cmdr. Steven Tarr III, is returning from the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility, where the crew executed the Chief of Naval Operations' Maritime Strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.
"There's no place like Guam," said Tarr. "My crew trained hard before we left to ensure we were prepared to conduct our national tasking. I am incredibly proud of each and every one of them."
Topeka celebrated the various achievements of its crew members in their professional development.
"We had 10 Sailors and two officers become submarine qualified, and two officer were promoted," said Senior Chief Sonar Technician Submarines Michael Wagnen, Topeka's chief of the boat. "The crew continues to challenge themselves professionally and personally, striving to always be better."
Topeka was commissioned Oct. 21, 1989, and is the third ship of the U.S. Navy named for the city of Topeka, Kansas. It is the fourth "improved" Los Angeles-class submarine. Measuring more than 360 feet long and displacing more than 6,900 tons, Topeka has a crew of approximately 140 Sailors. Topeka is capable of supporting various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Topeka is assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 15, which is located at Polaris Point, Naval Base Guam, in Apra Harbor, Guam, and consists of four Los Angeles-class attack submarines. The COMSUBRON 15 staff is responsible for providing training, material and personnel readiness support to these commands. Also based out of Naval Base Guam are submarine tenders USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) and USS Frank Cable (AS 40). The submarines and tenders are maintained as part of the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed submarine force and are capable of meeting global operational requirements.