Fast-attack sub USS Helena returns from deployment

The USS Helena returns to Naval Station Norfolk on June 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy: Kara Dixon)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Sailors aboard the USS Helena returned home to Naval Station Norfolk Wednesday following a deployment.

Navy officials say the submarine and its crew trekked more than 35,000 nautical miles during its latest deployment. The Helena visited ports in Haakonsvern, Norway; Faslane, United Kingdom; Scotland; and Brest, France.

Huntington Ingalls awarded $17.7M for USS Helena maintenance plans

Fast-attack subs like the Helena use stealth, agility and firepower for multi-faceted missions.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 24, 2016) The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Helena (SSN 725) transits the Atlantic Ocean with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the flagship of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. Ike is underway conducting a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group in preparation for a future deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rafael Martie/Released)

According to the Navy, the Helena was previously homeported in San Diego before going to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 2009 for an overhaul. The Helena was transferred to Naval Station Norfolk after the overhaul was completed.

Family and friends of more than 140 crew members were on hand Wednesday to greet them at Naval Station Norfolk.

“It never gets easy. Never easy,” said Dee Davis, whose son was on board the submarine.

Davis and her daughter-in-law were just two of many excited to see their loved ones for the first time in six months.

“The fact they can go under that long and remain that confident and as hopeful as they do is a true blessing,” Davis said.

Commanding Officer Jason Pittman says crew members learn how to work in the close quarters of a submarine.

“You get used to it. You’re so busy, you don’t remember you haven’t seen the sun in a while,” he said.

Pittman says while they made many stops overseas, they’re happy to be back home in Hampton Roads.

“This is the first time we haven’t worn sweaters in six months,” he said.

Pittman says the crew was able to participate in the D-Day Anniversary while stopped in Brest, France.

The USS Helena returns to Naval Station Norfolk on June 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy: Kara Dixon)