Welcome Home USS Key West (SSN 722)
by: JO2 Cori Rhea
Pearl Harbor HAWAII --- After more than four months away from home,
the men of the attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722) returned home
Dec. 8. after successfully completing missions in the North Arabian Sea
in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
USS Key West is a Los Angeles Class nuclear submarine with a crew of
130 men and is attached to Submarine Squadron Three.
"I am proud of the men on my ship," said USS Key West Commanding
Officer, Cmdr. Charles Merkel. "Everyone did their job just like they
were trained to do."
"So much has changed since we left a few months ago," said MM2(SS)
Ferlin Espinal, a native of Puerto Rico. "I am thrilled to be back here
with my girlfriend after such a successful deployment."
USS Key West was on its way to Bahrain for liberty when notification of
the terrorist attacks came. The submarine was diverted immediately to
the North Arabian Sea.
"I have been training in the Navy my entire 16-year career for the type
of operations we conducted this deployment," said combat systems
department chief, FTC(SS) Bobby Keyes. "The men performed flawlessly."
Although the crew had some time off in Singapore, Thailand and
Bahrain, they said they will always remember the important role
they played in protecting the nation’s security.
"We have a lot of pride knowing that we’ve directly contributed to
America’s freedom," said Espinal. "Just as patriotism rose throughout
the country, it rose onboard the boat, and I think everyone felt more
dedicated to what they were doing."
The freshly frocked second class petty officer re-enlisted during
the deployment for 6 more years.