USS New Mexico Returns to Norfolk
16 September 2021
NORFOLK, Va. --
The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) returned to its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk after successfully completing a scheduled deployment, Sept. 15.
Under the command of Cmdr. Jared Smith, New Mexico returns from a deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility where it executed the chief of naval operations' maritime strategy by supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.
“Amazed, proud and humbled. Time and again they provided an enthusiastic response to the most challenging submarine operations that would be the envy of any other commanding officer,” Smith said. “I would be remiss if I failed to recognize the incredible support the New Mexico families provided my crewmembers as well. Team New Mexico was already ‘ready to run’ and established the benchmark for other deployed submarines to meet!”
Of the many accomplishments of the submarine and crew, New Mexico was also the first U.S. submarine to visit Grotsund, Norway in more than a decade.
“My team and their constant drive for improvement made this deployment a success,” Smith said. “These Sailors enjoy being trusted with responsibility, and in-turn emphasize the importance of qualifications to their divisions.”
New Mexico arrived at Naval Station Norfolk to the greeting of friends and family members who showed their support with cheers and handmade welcome home signs, while maintaining health and safety protocols.
Chief Fire Control Technician (SS) Joe Hoppe, assigned to New Mexico, was overjoyed to return home to his family.
“It feels great to be home,” Hoppe said. “I really enjoyed the camaraderie building on this deployment, but it has been a long time away from the family, and I’m glad to be back.”
Santana Hoppe, the spouse of Joe Hoppe, took a few long moments to embrace her husband upon his return.
“It feel amazing to have Joe home,” she said. “We missed having him around, and we’re overdue for a family vacation.”
The end of the deployment culminated New Mexico’s transition out of a two-year maintenance period.
“Twenty-two months ago only a handful of crewmembers had been underway on a submarine, let alone deployed,” Smith said. “Now, New Mexico has an experienced crew that has demonstrated the capability of operating in the most challenging environments.”
During the deployment, New Mexico steamed more than 38,000 nautical miles with the crew supporting diplomatic relationships by conducting port visits in Grotsund, Norway; Souda Bay, Greece; and Faslane, Scotland.
Thirty-two enlisted Sailors and seven officers earned their submarine warfare qualification, known as ‘dolphins,’ 19 Sailors were advanced to the next paygrade, nine officers were promoted, and seven Sailors reenlisted.
The Virginia-class, also known as the VA-class or 774-class, is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines in service with the U.S. Navy. The submarines are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions. They were conceived as a less expensive alternative to the Seawolf-class attack submarines, designed during the Cold War era, and are replacing older Los Angeles-class submarines.
Fast-attack submarines are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence. They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Fast-attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.
The Virginia-class submarine is 377 feet long and 34 feet wide, and weighs about 7,900 tons when submerged. Underwater, it can reach speeds in excess of 25 knots.