The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721) held a decommissioning ceremony at the U.S Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport, Washington, July 21, 2023.

The ceremony honored past and present crewmembers who served on Chicago throughout the submarine’s storied 36-year history.

“For [36] years Chicago consistently demonstrated to our competitors her versatility and effectiveness in a wide range of military profiles, including anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, intelligence gathering and reconnaissance,” said Cmdr. Robert Gillis, Chicago’s final commanding officer. “While I can’t go into many specifics missions about what Chicago has done. None of the vast array of accomplishments would be possible if it wasn’t for her most valuable asset, her Sailors.”

Rear Admiral Nicholas Tilbrook, commander, Submarine Group 9 and former commanding officer of Chicago, and Stanley Szemborski, a retired vice admiral and former commanding officer of Chicago, served as guest speakers for the ceremony.

“In this ceremony we are highlighting the achievements of Chicago through the tenure of her commanding officer,” said Tilbrook. “But everyone in this auditorium knows that a ship is much more than just the commanding officers. It’s the crew that brings the ship to life. It’s the crew that executes the missions. It’s the crew that determines if a submarine is going to be successful or not. It was absolutely the crews of Chicago that made the USS Chicago so great.”

“As the commanding officers here can attest, standing on the bridge for the first time as CO is a thrill,” said Szemborski. “The thing that gets you through it is the training that you have received and that gives you confidence. But there’s a bigger thrill, one that every crewmember can experience. It’s returning to homeport on deployment with your loved ones on the pier holding signs like, ‘Welcome home, daddy.’ It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Chicago was commissioned September 27, 1986 at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia. Its unit awards include a Navy Unit Commendation and five Meritorious Unit Commendations for outstanding performance during deployed operations. Chicago’s superior efforts have garnered it Battle Efficiency “E” awards for 1990, 1991, 1994, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2022.

In January 2023, Chicago completed its final change of homeport to Bremerton, Washington. Chicago is now in the process of inactivation and defueling after 36 years of commissioned service.