BANGOR, Wash. (NNS) - The Trident ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) USS Alabama's (SSBN 731) Gold Crew returned home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash., Jan. 27, concluding an 86-day strategic deterrent patrol.

Family and friends were on hand to welcome the Alabama home, as Capt. Paul, Skarpness, commander, Submarine Squadron 17, and Capt. Dan Prince, chief of staff, Submarine Group 9.

Three new fathers from Alabama's Gold Crew were among the first Sailors to disembark the boat.

"After nearly three months at sea including Thanksgiving and Christmas, the crew is excited about spending some well-earned quality time with our families," said Cmdr. Jim Crosley, Alabama Gold Crew's commanding officer.

During Alabama's patrol, which began Nov. 3, 2010, a total of 12 Gold Crew Sailors ? 10 enlisted and two officers ? completed their submarine qualifications, earning the coveted submariner's "dolphins."

"Being able to say that I am now a part of the elite submarine force is a great feeling," said Culinary Specialist Seaman (SS) Nicholas Stach, one of the Gold Crew's newly qualified submariners.

Additionally, 17 Alabama Sailors completed their first strategic deterrent patrol and 11 Gold Crew members were promoted while underway.

"The crew performed exceptionally well and overcame several challenges during the patrol," said Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Shaun Peirsel, Alabama Gold Crew chief of the boat. "I am very proud to be their chief of the boat and could not have asked for a more capable and professional group of Sailors to work with."

The sixth of 18 Ohio-class SSBNs, Alabama is one of eight SSBNs homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, providing the survivable leg of the nation's strategic deterrent forces.

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