On a clear sunny day in Pearl Harbor, with performers from the Polynesian Cultural Center dancing, the Pacific Fleet Band playing tunes, and family and friends with leis in their hands, USS Buffalo (SSN 715) arrived at her new homeport.
The Jan. 18 arrival of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam marked the near completion of a homeport shift from Commander, Submarine Squadron 15 in Guam.
Buffalo, nicknamed Silent Thunder, departed Guam Jan. 11. Upon her arrival at Pearl Harbor, she will be assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron 1.
“My crew and I couldn’t be more excited about Buffalo’s change of homeport to Pearl Harbor!,” said Cmdr. Richard Seif, commanding officer of Buffalo. “My Sailors and families have heard many so many great things about the islands, and we are looking forward to experiencing Hawaii’s world famous “spirit of aloha.”
With only two families left to move, their arrival in Hawaii in the next few weeks will complete the move from Guam.
Seif said Buffalo’s change of homeport has been a real team effort that began almost a year ago. Buffalo’s Sailors had a lot of great lessons learned from the USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) and USS Houston (SSN 713) who made the move to Hawaii from Guam previously. He said he can’t say enough about the support he and his crew have received from Commander Submarine Squadron 1, Naval Submarine Support Command, the housing office, and the personnel support detachment staffs from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, because they made the move easy for crew.
“It was a little hard to move here at first, but the people are very kind, so it was OK,” said Paige Suh, a Buffalo spouse.
For Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kekoa Ulep, Hawaii is home. The Hawaiian native has been smiling continuously since the crew got underway from Guam, and entertained the crew with his ukulele. Ulep is very excited to see his family and go back to his church.
“It feels great to be here, I really miss my ohana or “family” and it’s a very overwhelming feeling, I love it,” said Ulep.
USS Buffalo is the second ship to be named after Buffalo, N.Y., and is built to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; project power ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Special Operation Forces; carry out Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions; support battle group operations, and engage in mine warfare.