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PEARL HARBOR – Friends and families of the crew from USS Key West (SSN 722) gathered at the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to say goodbye as the Los Angeles-class submarine departed for its new homeport of Naval Base Guam, Sept. 20.
In Guam, Key West will be assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron 15 as one of three forward-deployed submarines. The change of homeport is part of a swap between Key West and USS Buffalo (SSN 715) which is scheduled to arrive in Pearl Harbor next year.
"The crew has been waiting for this day for a long time. They know that they are going to a forward-deployed homeport and are excited to be at the tip of the spear as a forward-deployed unit," said Cmdr. Curtis P. Duncan, USS Key West commanding officer.
Duncan said getting the submarine mission ready will be the goal for the 160-man crew during the underway period. Training the crew to be familiarized with the ship's systems is the main purpose since many have been temporarily assigned to other submarines while Key West underwent a recently completed a two-year engineering overhaul and weapons systems upgrade period.
As the submarine made its final preparations for getting underway, the crew took time to say goodbye to their family and friends in Pearl Harbor. Many waved goodbye as the submarine slowly sailed away.
Duncan said arrangements have long been planned to help the families for the move to Guam. Numerous meetings were conducted to make the transition from Hawaii to Guam as smooth and easy as possible. Half of the families are already in Guam, and the rest of the families will follow from Hawaii as well as the mainland shortly after Key West departs Pearl Harbor.
Having the chance to be a forward-deployed submarine in Guam, Key West will be able to deploy at a moment's notice when called upon to emergent theater commander tasking in support of the nation's maritime strategy efforts.
"I'm looking forward to the adventure and going to see new places," said Machinist Mate Weapons Seaman Logan Richardson. Key West is the third submarine to bear the name of the city, and is a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine with Tomahawk vertical launch capability. She was built at Newport News, Va., lauched in 1985, and commissioned in September 1987. Key West has been deployed around the world's oceans and from both coasts of the United States. She has won many honors and awards, and on several occasions was recognized as the best submarine in Submarine Squadron 1 for Battle Efficiency.