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INDIAN ISLAND, Wash. - The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) returned home to the Pacific Northwest Aug. 1, following a 20-month deployment in the Western Pacific.
Since its departure in December 2013, Michigan was forward deployed to Guam, where it conducted surveillance, training and other critical missions in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
“During the deployment, the ship supported multiple Commander, Task Force 74 priority areas with four great liberty ports including Singapore, Philippines, Republic of Korea and Japan,” said Capt. Benjamin Pearson III, Michigan Gold crew commanding officer. “The two crews throughout the nearly two years worked tirelessly together as a great Michigan team to keep a 33-year-old ship ready to fight at the tip of the spear for the 7th Fleet and the nation.”
The Blue crew conducted a change of command ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, July 7, 2015. Capt. Joe Turk relieved Capt. Erik A. Burian as commanding officer. This was the first time Michigan had ever conducted a change of command ceremony in Japan.
Michigan also worked with partners from the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) in Busan and visited Singapore’s Changi Naval Base to build and maintain maritime partnerships. The rotating crews swapped five times throughout the deployment.
Michigan (Gold) crew was the recipient of the 2014 Command Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Battle Efficiency Award (Battle E) while forward deployed. The Battle “E” is an award of merit presented to the most proficient submarine crew in each squadron. This signifies Michigan’s sustained superior technical performance and combat readiness throughout the year.
“Keeping a submarine as complex as Michigan deployed for over 20 months is a challenging feat and demonstrates the remarkable skill and capability of our submarine Sailors,” said Capt. Joe Turk, Michigan Blue crew commanding officer. “The crew excelled in all mission areas, but as exciting as operating in the Western Pacific is, nothing beats returning home to see our families welcoming us on the pier.”
The ship is scheduled to begin a Major Maintenance Period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. Major Maintenance Periods are part of a ship’s normal operating cycle and occur after the submarine has been forward deployed for over 12 months.
“Following a long arduous deployment, a much needed long-term maintenance will assist the ship in maintaining excellence in its last 10 years of life,” said Pearson.
Michigan's return to the Pacific Northwest makes this its third deployment since its conversion from a Trident ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) in 2007.