US Navy Lt. Tom Krysil, navigator of the fast-attack submarine California, is greeted by his wife, Molly, and new baby, Christopher,at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, on Dec. 8, 2022. California returned to the boat's Groton homeport after a four-month deployment. US Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Joshua Karsten.
The Bears and their boat are back at base.
On Thursday, Dec. 8, a tug prodded the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine California into its Connecticut homeport pier at Naval Submarine Base New London, delivering the boat's crew — nicknamed the Bears — to their families and friends after a four-month patrol in the Atlantic Ocean.
“I’m incredibly proud of the crew of California, who showed once again that America’s submarine force is agile and mission-ready at all times,” said Cmdr. James Henry, California’s commanding officer, in a prepared statement. “This is a dedicated, hard-working team of sailors, and I’m honored to serve alongside them at sea. As with any operational period, we couldn’t do it without the love, support, and sacrifice of our families back home, and I’m happy to lead this crew home for the holidays.”
The boat steamed more than 25,000 nautical miles but made only one port call, to Faslane, Scotland, according to Lt. Cmdr. Seth Koenig, spokesperson for Submarine Readiness Squadron 32.
Families gather pierside as the fast-attack sub California prepares to moor at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. US Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Joshua Karsten.
“Our submarines provide our nation with unmatched stealth and firepower that can be wielded at any time,” said Capt. Thomas O’Donnell, the commander of Submarine Squadron 12, in his statement. “Cmdr. Henry and his California crew exhibited that high state of readiness and effectiveness over the last several months by executing a short-notice, unscheduled surge deployment to the European Command area of operations. We’re glad to welcome them home now to spend the holidays with their families after another job well-done.”
After California moored to the pier, Sonar Technician (Submarine) 3rd Class Louis Longwell and his girlfriend, Sabine Saladrigas, smooched, kicking off the ceremonial first kiss.
The first hug was shared by Senior Chief Electronics Technician (Nuclear Power) Joseph Wisniewski and his three children.
The boat’s navigator, Lt. Tom Krysil, got to greet his baby son, Christopher, for the first time.
Krysil's wife — and Christopher's mother — is Molly Krysil, who’s also a submarine-qualified Navy officer.
Cmdr. James Henry, commanding officer of the fast-attack submarine California, greets his wife and children at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. US Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Joshua Karsten.
Commissioned in 2011, the $2.3 billion California is the eighth of the Virginia-class subs, but was the first launched with the stealthy advanced electromagnetic signature reduction system.
The boat is the seventh US warship named to honor the Golden State.
It generally carries 134 officers and crew.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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