The Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS North Carolina returned home to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Thursday following a deployment to the Western Pacific region.
The 140-man crew was greeted by with signs, banners, and lei as family and friends gathered at the submarine piers.
The submarine's commanding officer, Cmdr. Richard Rhinehart said he is proud of his Sailors and their hard work.
"Conducting forward-deployed operations is one of the most professionally rewarding experiences a Sailor can have," said Rhinehart. "There is no more challenging or strategically more vital a region of the world than the Western Pacific."
Rhinehart said being forward deployed is a culmination of years of training and many months of preparation and certification.
In addition to gaining the experience of operating in the Western Pacific for several months, the deployment afforded Sailors the opportunity to work on qualifications.
Despite half of the crew being on their first deployment, 22 enlisted personnel and eight officers became submarine qualified and are now entitled to wear their respective submarine warfare "dolphin" insignia.
"As a young Sailor, there is no better opportunity to learn than while on deployment," said Rhinehart. "Deployments pack a lot of experience into a fairly short period of time. We spent more than 80 percent of our time deployed at sea."
For spouse Dani Allred, having her husband home, Electronics Technician 1st Class Mike Allred, brought smiles of joy.
"I'm so overwhelmed, it's surreal," said Allred. "I can't believe this day is here, and we are looking forward to starting our life together again!"
Commissioned in May of 2008, North Carolina is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to carry the name North Carolina. The Virginia-class boat was built by General Dynamics Electric Boat Division in Groton, Conn., and Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., and joined the fleet in December 2006.
The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.