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Congratulations to the Key West for this award!!!!

COMSUBPAC announces 2001 Battle "E" recipients
JO2 Cori Rhea
COMSUBPAC Public Affairs
Winners of the 2001 Battle Efficiency "E" award for the Submarine Forces,
Pacific have recently been named. USS Buffalo (SSN 715) (Commander Submarine Squadron One), USS Key West (SSN 722) (Commander Submarine Squadron Three), and USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) (Commander Submarine Squadron Seven),  all attack submarines based out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, have been awarded Battle "E" for their respective squadrons by Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC).

The purpose of the Battle "E" award is to recognize commands which were evaluated during the past year that have attained the highest overall or departmental readiness  to carry out their wartime tasks.

"The competition for battle efficiency awards was extremely tough," said Rear Adm. John B. Padgett III, Commander Submarine Forces Pacific Fleet.

"Each crew member of an award winner can be justifiably proud of their contribution to improve Pacific submarine force readiness."

This Found On Another Site

Seven Pacific Rim nations, along with the United Kingdom, are participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC 2002), a major maritime exercise conducted in the waters off Hawaii from June 24 - July 22. RIMPAC 2002 brings together maritime forces from Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.
This year's exercise is the 18th in a series of RIMPAC exercises conducted periodically since 1971. Over 30 ships, 24 aircraft and 11,000 sailors, airmen, Marines, soldiers and Coast Guardsmen are participating in RIMPAC training operations.
RIMPAC enhances the tactical proficiency and interoperability of participating units in a wide array of combined operations at sea. RIMPAC also helps promote stability in the Pacific Rim region to the benefit of all participating nations. This year's exercise includes a variety of surface combatant ships, submarines, tactical aircraft, and amphibious forces.
The USS Key West Was Involved

COMSUBPAC Press Release

Navy Ships displaying first Navy Jack

by: Senior Chief Journalist Phil Eggman
USS Key West (SSN 722) raised the first Navy Jack in lieu of the Union Jack today to honor those who died during the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. USS Key West was the first U.S. Navy ship to be on station and within strike distance following the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2002. The second U.S. Navy ship was USS Providence, also a Los Angeles attack submarine. Providence is from the Atlantic Submarine Force.
Beginning today, all U.S. Navy ships will raise the Jack at the bow of the ship, and continue to fly the Navy Jack throughout the global war on terrorism.
The Jack is a flag consisting of a rattlesnake, superimposed across 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes with the motto, "Don’t Tread On Me". Commodore Esek Hopkins first employed the Jack in the fall of 1775 as he readied the Continental Navy in the Delaware River. His signal for the whole fleet to engage the enemy was the striped Jack and Ensign flown at their proper places.
The temporary substitution of this Jack represents a historic reminder of the nation’s and Navy’s origin and will to preserve and triumph.
Cmdr. Chuck Merkel's comments:
1. It is an honor to represent all of the ships in Pearl Harbor, to fly the Navy Jack this morning in honor of those people killed in the attacks on Sept. 11, last year. It's significant that USS Key West represents the fleet because we were the first ship to arrive and be within Tomahawk missile strike range following the attacks against our country last year.
2. On Sept. 11, we were conducting a routine transit to the fifth fleet when we learned of the attacks and were directed to the North Arabian Sea.
3. We were absolutely ready to respond to our nation's call. We had gone through all of the training exercises, preparing for deployment and there is no doubt we were ready when this happened. The crew responded amazingly well.
4. Since return from deployment we had a stand down period and then we went into a training and readiness cycle where we've been maintaining the ship and training in preparation for our next deployment.
5. USS Providence was on her way home to Groton, Conn. She was turned around and joined us in the North Arabian Sea, just a few days after the attacks.
6. Just like all the other ships in the Navy, we have our purposes to be ready and answer the call if required. These are magnificent ships and the crew is the true treasure. It is my job to make sure the crew is ready to respond if required. The crew was certainly ready and responded to this attack to our country as did all of our other ships that were deployed.
Sept, 2002

USS Key West Sailors Help Strengthen
Ties with Hawaiian Community

by: Ensign Dave Collis, Supply Officer
PEARL HARBOR, HI--Sailors from the attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722) spent a couple days improving the grounds and buildings for the Seagull Elementary School in Kapolei, Hawaii. A diverse group of submarine specialists including cooks, mechanics, technicians and corpsman took advantage of the opportunity to give something back to the community. The volunteers performed a variety of jobs ranging from yard and landscape improvements to painting and minor building projects.
Seagull is the first school of its type in Hawaii. The school merges pre-school through 1st grade with an Adult Center for senior citizens. Seagull Elementary is an inter-generational school with three campuses located in Kailua, Kapolei and downtown Honolulu.
"This is a first shared site facility in Hawaii, where the children and the adults share the same facility," said Chuck Larson, Director, Seagull Elementary Schools. "Volunteers from USS Key West performed several projects around the campus that needed to be addressed, which helps us keep the costs down, while improving the facilities for the children and adults of Hawaii."
Master Chief Greg Shaw, Chief of the Boat for USS Key West explained that, "projects like these strengthen ties between the military and community, while also providing Sailors with the opportunity to see the positive impact their contributions can have outside the workplace."
Sailors from USS Key West routinely participate in community relations projects at home and on deployment. While deployed with the Carl Vinson Carrier Battle Group in 2001, more than 25 Sailors participated in an outreach project at the Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens in Singapore.
October 2002

USS Key West Skipper Makes History
Story Number: NNS030327-07
Release Date: 3/27/2003 11:27:00 AM

By Journalist 2nd Class Cori Rhea, Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- History is currently being made underwater, as for the first time since World War II, a submarine commanding officer is in the process of leading his crew through two consecutive combat deployments.

Cmdr. Chuck Merkel departed Pearl Harbor with his attack submarine, USS Key West (SSN 722), Jan. 24 for a six-month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.

"I feel ready and confident to take the crew and the ship on this deployment," Merkel said. "Again, we are fully ready to answer the nation's call and any taskings that may be asked of us."

During his last six-month deployment, the crew was on their way to a liberty port in Bahrain when they were notified of the Sept. 11 attacks. The submarine was immediately diverted to the North Arabian Sea.

"Our last deployment really shows why we have a Navy and a submarine force," Merkel said. "We transitioned from a 10-day transit to a 10-week war patrol. We answered every call, and we were ready to complete everything we were tasked to do."

In fact, Key West was the first U.S. warship to be on station and within Tomahawk strike-missile range following the attacks.

Today, Key West is one of the 30 coalition warships assigned to Naval Forces Central Command and is actively participating in Tomahawk Land Attack Missile Operations to disarm Iraq. Targets include command and control facilities, early-warning radar sites and surface-to-surface missile systems.

"I feel that my previous deployments have certainly prepared me as commanding officer for what lies ahead, and I couldn't be more proud to lead USS Key West on deployment again to answer the nation's call," Merkel said.

According to Merkel, the crew is the key ingredient to a successful deployment.

"These are magnificent ships, and the crew is the true treasure. Each one of them makes Key West complete. Their skills, their compassion and their unique interests combine, adding to the overall strength of USS Key West."

Key West is armed with the most sophisticated Mark-48 anti-submarine torpedoes and Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles. The submarine carries a crew of 130 men and is attached to Submarine Squadron 3.

Sub skipper
brings Afghan
experience to Iraq

By Gregg K. Kakesako
The skipper of the Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine USS Key West, based at Pearl Harbor, made history last week when his crew launched Tomahawk missiles at Iraq.
Cmdr. Chuck Merkel, 42, became the first submarine commander to take his crew into two combat cruises since World War II.
On Oct. 26, 2001, the Key West was the first U.S. warship to be on station in the North Arabian Sea and launched Tomahawk cruise missiles into Afghanistan along with the USS Providence, a sub from the Atlantic Fleet.
On March 21, following the air strikes against targets in Iraq two days earlier, the Key West was one of the 30 U.S. Navy and coalition warships that sent cruise missiles at command and control facilities, early-warning radar sites and surface-to-surface missile systems in Iraq.
"I feel that my previous deployments have certainly prepared me, as commanding officer, for what lies ahead, and I couldn't be more proud to lead USS Key West on deployment again to answer the nation's call," said Merkel, a 22-year Navy veteran, in a statement released by the Navy.
"This time around we have less than half the crew from last deployment, so this is a first-time deployment for many of my crew," he added. "I am completely confident in them. We've gone through extensive training, and we've worked really hard to prepare for this deployment. I'm very proud of our accomplishments from last deployment, and I am positive that we will successfully accomplish our mission."
Merkel said the crew of the 360-foot sub is key to a successful deployment.
"These are magnificent ships, and the crew is the true treasure. Each one of them makes Key West complete. Their skills, their compassion and their unique interests combine, adding to the overall strength of USS Key West."
The Key West has been away from Pearl Harbor since Jan. 24 and is armed with at least two dozen Tomahawk missiles.
During Merkel's last six-month deployment in 2001, the Key West was on its way to a liberty port in Bahrain when the crew was notified of the Sept. 11 attacks. Within minutes the submarine was diverted to the North Arabian Sea on the first sub war patrol of the 21st century.
"More than anything, I feel lucky to have been able to be in that position at that time," Merkel told the Star-Bulletin last year in reviewing his role in the strikes against Afghan targets 300 miles inland.
Four of the Key West sailors were from New York City.
Of the Afghanistan war patrol, Merkel said last year: "At first, it was hard to believe or accept what had happened. But the bottom line was that you had to believe that it was our job to do what our nation required us to do."

Commander Submarine Force,
U.S. Pacific Fleet

Pearl Harbor Subs Launch Tomahawks

Two Pearl Harbor based submarines, currently assigned to the U.S. Navy's 5th
Fleet, were among the first U.S. ships involved in Tomahawk launches in
support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) launched the
initial strike on March 19, followed by more strikes by USS Columbia (SSN 771)
on March 20. USS Montpelier (SSN 765) and USS Providence (SSN 719) from
the Atlantic Force were the other submarines assisting in military operations
to disarm Iraq. Also involved, USS Key West (SSN 722) and USS Louisville
(SSN 724).

Coalition Forces Continue Tomahawk Launches
Story Number: NNS030322-06
Release Date: 3/22/2003 11:01:00 AM

From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs
BAHRAIN (NNS) -- Thirty U.S. Navy and coalition warships currently assigned to Naval Forces Central Command launched Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) March 21 during military operations to disarm Iraq.

The U.S. ships which launched Tomahawks were USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), USS San Jacinto (CG 56), USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Briscoe (DD 977), USS Deyo (DD 989), USS Fletcher (DD 992), USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), USS O’Kane (DDG 77), USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79), USS Augusta (SSN 710), USS Providence (SSN 719), USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720), USS Key West (SSN 722), USS Louisville (SSN 724), USS Newport News (SSN 750), USS San Juan (SSN 751), USS Montpelier (SSN 765), USS Toledo (SSN 769), USS Columbia (SSN 771), USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) and two Royal Navy submarines, HMS Splendid and HMS Turbulent.

By JOC(SW/AW) David Rush
 COMSUBPAC Public Affairs
Pearl Harbor, HI--Los Angeles class attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722), one of four Pacific Fleet submarines to strike at targets in Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom, returned to its homeport of Pearl Harbor Thursday, July 24.
     USS Key West left for deployment on Jan. 24, 2003 and was in the Arabian Gulf when coalition forces began the initial strike against various targets in Iraq. In addition to participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom, USS Key West was the first U.S. warship on station during the initial phase of Operation Enduring Freedom and participated in the strike mission into Afghanistan.
     “I’m proud of my entire crew, they trained really hard and we were ready when the call came and our crew performed flawlessly in combat. We launched Tomahawk cruise missiles into Iraq at specified targets so forces ashore would have less resistance. In October 2001 we also launched Tomahawk missiles into Afghanistan as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Cmdr. Chuck Merkel, USS Key West’s commanding officer.
Merkel has the unique distinction of being the only submarine commander who has let his crew into back-to-back operations since World War II. “It’s quite an honor. It’s what happens when you train a crew, get them ready to do their mission and when the call comes, it’s just like the training,” Merkel said.
According to Merkel, training is the key to preparing for war. “The real thing is so much like the training that there is no real difference other than you throw the final switches, the weapons fire and you watch them fly away. As we left Pearl Harbor in January we had been training specifically for events in Iraq, we trained during the transit all the way there. When the time came it was just like another training event.”
Capt. William Toti, Commander, Submarine Squadron Three, was extremely pleased with the ship’s performance. “I’m intensely proud of this ship. They performed magnificently, not just this year in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but also in Operation Enduring Freedom. This is the only submarine in my squadron that shot in both wars. They did a fantastic job both times. They have the spirit and the heart and they are very proud to have defended their country twice in two years. Two times their country called on them and two times they met the challenge,” said Toti.
One proud family member, Becky Shepard, was waiting patiently for her husband, Lt. Ken Shepard. In her arms was their two-month old baby girl Kara. He has only seen photos and video of her. “There are no words to describe it; it’s wonderful, spectacular. He has seen pictures of our baby, but of course it’s not the same as seeing her in person. I’m glad they did their job and I’m glad they’re home,” said Shepard.
     For one Sailor who is glad to be home, this was a milestone in his Navy career. He is 22-years old, and has been in the Navy for just two years. Fire Control Technician Seaman David G. Young, a native of Greenville, S.C., was on watch when the call came to go to war.
“I was on watch in the Vertical Launch Center, where we open the hatches and prepare the missiles to be shot. They are actually launched from the Tactical Center. It was tense, but everyone was ready to go,” said Young.
As for getting to be part of the action, Young and his fellow Sailors were glad to be able to contribute to Operation Iraqi Freedom. “You sit out there for a long time and you finally get to do something. I feel proud. We did a good job. We’ve been hearing a lot of good things being said about us,” said Young.
     As for his first deployment, Young was glad to be a part of something he will never forget. “This is my first deployment. It’s a good way to start out. Most Sailors don’t get a chance to do what we have done. I got to do it my first time. You can’t beat that.
USS Key West is the 35th Los Angeles class submarine and was commissioned in Sept. 12, 1987. Designed for carrier escort, the Los Angeles class submarine combines the most desired attack qualities, including speed, silence, and powerful weaponry. USS Key West can be armed with MK-48 and ADCAP torpedoes and the Tomahawk cruise missile.
The Tomahawk missile can be launched using the ship's torpedo tubes, or in the case of later ships of the class, from any of twelve vertical launch tubes located forward of the sail. Los Angeles class submarines with the Vertical Launch System represent the very latest in submarine design and technology.
As an attack submarine, USS Key West combines stealth, endurance and mobility giving it multi-mission capability by providing early strike capability from close proximity while maintaining undersea superiority.               July, 24 2003

COMSUBPAC Press Release

Sault relieves Merkel as USS Key West commanding officer
Story by JO3 Corwin Colbert
 COMSUBPAC Public Affairs

Pearl Harbor, HI--Cmdr. Kenneth R. Sault relieved Cmdr. Charles K. Merkel, Jr. as commanding officer of USS Key West (SSN 722) in a change of command ceremony on July 29.
    Capt. Bruce Smith, Chief of Staff for Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.
“We honor Commander Merkel for his command tour performance. Merkel is the first submarine skipper since World War II to command a submarine with consecutive combat action,” said Smith.
     During his speech, Smith presented Merkel with the Bronze Star Medal for his outstanding leadership and command of USS Key West.
“During the thirty-three months I commanded this ship, the accomplishments of my crew demonstrated why our nation needs a Navy. It has been an honor to be the commanding officer of this ship for Operation Enduring Freedom as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom,” said Merkel.
Merkel’s next assignment is Commander Submarine Squadron Seven where he will be the Deputy Commander for Training.
“I am thrilled being given the responsibility and authority to command USS Key West,” said Sault, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983. He has been assigned to three submarines including USS Hampton (SSN 767), USS Alaska (SSBN 732)(GOLD) and USS Glenard P. Lipscomb (SSN 685). His most recent assignment was at Commander Pacific Fleet.                        July 29, 2002

AUG 15!