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Navy sub returns from rare 'surge' deployment

The USS Missouri, a Virginia-class attack submarine conducts sea trials, July 2, 2010, in the Atlantic Ocean.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A Navy submarine has returned to its Connecticut base from a rare spur-of-the-moment deployment, completing a secret 11-week mission that sent it to European waters.

The USS Missouri, which came back to Groton over the weekend, was on the first "surge deployment" involving an attack submarine to be announced by the Navy in eight years.

While the military has declined to provide details, it said the submarine left on March 24 to conduct "security missions in the U.S. European Command region." At the time, Russia was completing its takeover of Crimea, and the U.S. Navy has sent three surface ships to the Black Sea since the escalation of tensions.

Attack submarines typically deploy overseas for about six months, then return home for a yearlong period that allows for training at sea and onshore, evaluation of the submarine and leave time for the sailors.

The 140-man crew of USS Missouri had returned to shore only three months earlier from its first overseas deployment when they had to assemble on short notice.

"It was just a lot of scrambling, a lot of getting things together and helping the guys to get themselves together and prepare," said Cheryl Gaydos, the wife of a Missouri crew member and a representative for sailors' families in her role as the submarine's ombudsman. She said the deployment strained the families but "the boat ladies" stuck together.

"It was definitely a rough time. It was something unexpected. I mean it's the nature of the beast as a submariner and a submariner's wife," she said.

The commander of the Navy's submarine force, Vice Adm. Michael Connor, said in a congratulatory message that he was "grateful and humbled" by the sacrifices made by the crew and their families.

The Virginia-class submarine, which was commissioned in Groton in 2010, is equipped to conduct covert surveillance, attack targets with Tomahawk cruise missiles, launch special forces and hunt other ships and submarines. It is the fifth Navy ship named in honor of the state of Missouri.

On the latest deployment, the Missouri stopped at a port in Faslane, Scotland, but Navy officials said they could not confirm whether it conducted missions in the Black Sea, because submarine operations are classified.

It was the first attack submarine surge deployment to be announced by the Navy since 2006, when USS Louisville was sent on short notice to the western Pacific and USS Memphis was sent to the Middle East to support operations in Iraq, according to Lt. Timothy Hawkins, a Navy spokesman in Groton.
 

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