The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Jan. 31, following a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific.

North Carolina departed Pearl Harbor in July 2023 for a routine deployment, during which the crew demonstrated the full spectrum of submarine capabilities, to include anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, naval special warfare operations, and exercises with multiple Allies and partners. North Carolina steamed over 47,000 nautical miles and operated across many areas in the Indo-Pacific region.

“This was a very rewarding and successful deployment for North Carolina,” said North Carolina’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Tad Robbins, a Brazil, Indiana native. “The officers and crew of North Carolina tackled some of the toughest tasks in the submarine force and executed with precision and brilliance. I couldn’t be more proud of the men and women of North Carolina.”

During its deployment, North Carolina trained and worked closely with their Australian, Indian, and Japanese counterparts through bilateral and multilateral exercises, including Malabar and Talisman Sabre. North Carolina made a port call to HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, during which the submarine hosted several Australian leaders and regional diplomats. The visit, the first to Australia since the AUKUS Optimal Pathway announcement in March 2023, helped strengthen ties with our Australian allies and supported the AUKUS optimal pathway. North Carolina also conducted port visits to U.S. Naval Base Guam and Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.

“The toughness and positive attitudes the North Carolina family showed throughout this entire deployment are truly extraordinary. Knowing we had their support throughout made our jobs easier and allowed us to perform at even higher levels,” said North Carolina’s chief of the boat, Command Master Chief Alexander Jones from Virginia Beach, Virginia. “I can’t put into words how proud I am of the hard work our Sailors have put in; they maintain the highest level of standards in everything they do. North Carolina has the best crew in the fleet.”

During the deployment, 31 North Carolina Sailors became fully qualified in submarines and earned the privilege of wearing the submarine warfare insignia, more commonly known as ‘dolphins,’ or ‘fish,’ on their uniforms. This insignia represents their ability to operate their ship at the highest levels.

“Earning my fish means a lot to me, because it’s hard and makes me part of an exclusive group of combat professionals,” said Sonar Technician 3rd Class Jaylan Dorsey, from Tampa, Florida. “I feel extremely proud, having fish on my chest.”

North Carolina was commissioned May 3, 2008, and is the fourth navy vessel and first submarine named after the state. North Carolina is homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and has a crew of 140 Sailors and officers representing almost every state in the nation.