USS Cheyenne Holds Change of Command Ceremony

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) held a change of command ceremony at the submarine piers on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 14.

In 2011 I was invited aboard the USS Cheyenne for a tour.

Cmdr. John T. Gonser relieved Cmdr. John W. Stafford as the commanding officer of Cheyenne and its crew.

Rear Adm. Richard A. Correll, commander, Submarine Group Seven, was the guest speaker for the ceremony and praised Stafford for his achievements and dynamic leadership during his three-year tenure.

“Cmdr. Stafford achieved success because he gets out of the way and lets the officers, chief petty officers and crew do their jobs,” said Correll. “Our very best commanding officers, such as John here, know that their job is to really know their Sailors, and to help every member of their crew be successful by putting them in situations where their strengths are magnified.”

Under Stafford’s leaderships, the crew of the Cheyenne earned the 2015 Squadron Seven Engineering “E” award, 2016 Battle Efficiency “E” award and the 2016 Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Award for superior performance in battle efficiency competition.

Stafford thanked the members of the Cheyenne crew, his family, the support on the waterfront and her namesake city.

“Thank you to the great city of Cheyenne, Wyoming,” said Stafford. “One of my biggest regrets was not making it to Cheyenne Frontier Days, but all the crew members, who did attend, remarked at the love the city has for its submarine. Thank you to the patriots of middle America.”

During the ceremony, Stafford received a Legion of Merit for his exceptionally meritorious service.

As Gonser assumed command, he praised his new crew for the incredible opportunity to continue carrying out his duty to uphold the reputation and demands of the Cheyenne.

“This ship and crew have an impressive history and reputation,” said Gonser. “While we should take pride in being part of this legacy, here is my challenge to you, and my promise to you. Together we will serve our country whenever and wherever our nation’s security demands and live to make those who came before you proud of us.”

Following his relief, Stafford will report to commander, Submarine Group Seven in Yokosuka, Japan.

Homeported in Pearl Harbor, USS Cheyenne is named after the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and was the last of the 62 Los Angeles-class submarines to enter service in the U.S. Navy. Commissioned Sept. 13, 1996. Cheyenne measures more than 360-feet long and weigh more than 6,000 tons when submerged.

USS Cheyenne Arrives in the Philippines

The last of the improved Lost Angeles-class submarines, USS Cheyenne (SSN 773), arrived in Subic Bay Feb. 1 as part of its Western Pacific deployment.

Me inside the US Navy Nuclear Sub the USS Cheyenne

Me inside the US Navy Nuclear Sub the USS Cheyenne

With a crew of approximately 150 Sailors, Cheyenne will be conducting various military exercises for training.

“It is our pleasure to visit Subic Bay. My Sailors and crew have earned this much deserved rest in this great town,” said Cmdr. Noel Gonzalez, Cheyenne’s commanding officer. “We have been out to sea for a while conducting lots of training, becoming proficient at our jobs, and employing the ship as she was designed to be used. My crew looks forward to building good relationships and reinforcing our partnerships in the Philippines.”

Cheyenne is one of the most capable submarines in the U.S. Navy. Its enhanced capabilities include advanced sonar systems and a state of the art engine room. Its sophisticated design and highly trained crew enable Cheyenne to operate globally, ready for any mission.

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarin

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarin

“We enjoy our job and being out to sea,” Gonzalez added, ” but every Sailor will tell you that visiting foreign ports is part of the reason many of us joined the Navy.”

“This visit to Subic Bay is well deserved,” said Chief of the Boat, Electronic Technician Master Chief Michael Hinkle. “We are looking forward to exploring the area and taking part in some community service projects during our time here.”

For crew members like Culinary Specialist Seaman Sheldon Alvarez, this is their first time visiting the Philippines.

“I am looking forward to exploring the area,” said Alvarez. “This is my first port visit ever and I am happy to be here and have the ability to contribute in an area of the world I have never visited before.”

Boarding the USS Cheyenne with an Old High School buddy.

Boarding the USS Cheyenne with an Old High School buddy.

Some of Cheyenne’s Filipino-American Sailors, like Electronics Technician Seaman Teodorico-Dante Tapia, will have an opportunity to connect with their heritage.

“I am really looking forward to finding the food I grew up eating, as well as dishes I’ve never tasted before,” said Tapia. “I can’t wait for some liberty to explore the place my elders still call home. I am an American, but I am a descendant of the Philippines and this is my first chance to see a place I’ve only dreamed of visiting!”

Cheyenne is home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hi.


Stay Safe USS Cheyenne – Submarine Leaves Pearl Harbor With My Heart Still On Board

A year ago yesterday, I had the opportunity to get a private tour of the Fast-Attack Submarine the USS Cheyenne (SSN 773), and today I’m saddened to be learning that it is leaving Hawaii for a six-month deployment.

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Dec. 13 for a scheduled six-month deployment to the Western Pacific region.

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarin

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarine

Cheyenne’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Noel J. Gonzalez, commented the crew is eager and excited to get underway.

“I am extremely happy with the crew’s enthusiasm, eagerness, and motivation to accomplish our tasking,” said Gonzalez.

At the helm of the USS Cheyenne

At the helm of the USS Cheyenne

Gonzalez said the crew has anxiously waited for the day to deploy after having spent months preparing and training for the missions they will soon undertake. From different weather patterns to deployed operational tasking, Cheyenne will face many challenges during deployment that are not normally encountered in the local operating area.

For many on the crew, including Electronics Technician 3rd Class Sean Michael Dziuvenis, this will be a first deployment.

“It’s going to be a long time away from homeport, not talking to my family and friends, but I’m looking forward to the port visits and seeing the world,” said Dziuvenis.

Inside the sub

Inside the sub

Along with accomplishing the mission, the deployment will provide an opportunity to gain experience for many on the crew to include watchstanding, and submarine qualifications.

“This is without a doubt the best-trained crew in the Pacific Fleet and they are ready to complete any mission,” said Cheyenne’s Command Master Chief Michael Hinkle.

In the Sioux language, Cheyenne means "aliens" or "people of foreign toungue".  The Sioux Indiangs gave the name "Cheyenne" to the Indian tribe that roamed the plains in this region.  The crew of the USS Cheyenne earned the Commander, Submarine Squadron SEVEN Battle Efficiency "E" Award in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

In the Sioux language, Cheyenne means “aliens” or “people of foreign toungue”. The Sioux Indiangs gave the name “Cheyenne” to the Indian tribe that roamed the plains in this region. The crew of the USS Cheyenne earned the Commander, Submarine Squadron SEVEN Battle Efficiency “E” Award in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Commissioned September 1996, USS Cheyenne is the third ship of the United States Navy to be named for Cheyenne, Wyoming, and is one of the most capable attack submarines in the world. She can launch Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles as well as Mark-48 torpedoes.


USS Hawaii Returns to Pearl Harbor

Friends and families of the crew from the USS Hawaii (SSN 776) gathered at the submarine piers to welcome back the Virginia-class submarine as she returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific region, Nov. 20.

Commander Rogeness of the USS CHEYENNE and I in front of the USS Cheyenne Submarine when I got to tour the sub in Pearl Harbor

“It was an honor and privilege to sail with these warriors, ambassadors and Sailors, taking the war canoe on her second Western Pacific deployment, “said Cmdr. Stephan G. Mack, USS Hawaii commanding officer. “We are very proud of them for their accomplishments.”

During the deployment, Hawaii accomplished tasking in support of theatre and national interests and participated in two combined anti-submarine warfare exercises.

Hawaii also conducted several port visits that strengthened relationships with key regional allies, including Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines throughout her six months away from Pearl Harbor. While in the foreign ports, the crew experienced different cultures and participated in social events with their host ships.

Mack said the crew of 137 performed flawlessly in all respects in the six month deployment. They were also highly successful in the area of professional development with 24 Sailors having earned their submarine qualification or “Dolphins” and many returning to homeport advanced to the next higher pay grade.

“Deployment exposed all Hawaii Sailors to the dynamic operational environment of the Western Pacific, enabling all hands to achieve more senior qualification and gain valuable at sea experience,” said Mack. “The experience we gained operating Hawaii for six months forward-deployed, away from shore-based support, demonstrates our capability for extended operations, our commitment to distant friends, and the flexibility, endurance, and mobility of these mighty warships.”

For 57 of the 137 Sailors on board, this was their first deployment experience according to Mack. Sonar Technician Submarines Seaman Craig Parazak describes the deployment as eye opening and something that he has a new found respect for.

“It was the hardest work that I have ever had to do, but very rewarding,” said Parazak.

Mack said the submarine’s return home from deployment back to family and friends was made even better by their return to the beautiful island of Hawaii.

“There is nothing better than being on the Hawaii in Hawaii,” said Mack.

Hawaii is the first commissioned vessel of its name. The submarine was named to recognize the tremendous support the Navy has enjoyed from the people and state of Hawaii, and in honor of the rich heritage of submarines in the Pacific.

The Year That Was 2011… My Adventures in Paradise

2011 has been another interesting year for me.  Here is a quick year in review of some of the things that I got to blog about as I tried to do at least one interesting thing each month:

In January, I spent another weekend at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort where I finally got a chance to check out the Legends of the Pacific Luau show:

My son gets a "tattoo" from one of the dancers

In February, I got a chance to tour the Puna Geothermal Venture plant with plant manager Mike Kaleikini and State Lawmakers:

Kaleikini and Senator Hanohano talk about geothermal

In March, I got to join Hawaii Forest & Trail and be an extra on the television show Next Stop TV.

Filming the final segment of the show

In April, the University of Hawaii Football team came to the Big Island and put on a scrimmage for Big Island residents and Mayor Kenoi allowed me to follow him onto the field to take pictures of the team.

UH Quarterback Bryant Moniz stretches out

In April, I got to check out Five for Fighting at the Royal Kona Resort with John Ondrasik:

John Ondrasik rocks the crowd while I was playing with my camera

In May, I got to check out Toad the Wet Sprocket at the Royal Kona Resort where I got to interview Glenn Phillips.

Toad the Wet Sprocket

Also in May, I got to attend the Big Island Film Festival that was held at the Fairmont Orchid where my ohana was put up on the GOLD FLOOR!

Mayor Kenoi, Film Commissioner John Mason and Actress Sarah Wayne Callies

Looking back at May… I realize it was quite a busy month as I also flew over to Oahu to attend the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards where I got to get up on stage with The Green during their sound check.

The Green won Reggae Album of the Year

In June, before the Zipline accident at Honoli’i Outpost… I had the opportunity to go Zipping with KapohoKine Adventures at their new Zipline Course.  Ironically, this course is now closed because of a construction accident that claimed the life of one of the folks working on the Ziplines.

Zipline #4 at the KapohoKine Ziplines

In July, I got to attend the Grand Opening of the Eddie Aikau Restaurant and Surf Museum:

Eddie Aikau Restaurant and Surf Museum

August was going to be an awesome month until I got busted up by the cops for filming them in action outside the Pahoa Village Club.  I got falsely arrested and the charges were later dropped.  Of course this is a memory that I’d like to go away… but I’m still pursuing legal action at this time.

A much better memory in August, was attending the BBQ Cookoff, watching the $10,000 Mai Tai “Mix-Off” and going back stage with the Spin Doctors at the Royal Kona Resort.

The Spin Doctors rocked the Royal Kona Resort

In September, I got to stay at the Hilton Waikoloa Village again where I got to attend the 16th Annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range.

Mayor Kenoi and Senator Hanohano look on as Dan Akaka Jr. blows the conch opening the 2011 Mealani Taste of the Hawaiian Range

In October it looks like I laid low and didn’t do to much, however in November, The White House and the US State Department granted me a “Media Pass” to the 2011 APEC Conference that was held in Honolulu and on one of the days, I got to have lunch with the world leaders!

Wish it would have said "Blogger" and not "Journalist"!

December was a cool month as I got to set a Tandem Skydiving Altitude Record with Skydive Hawaii one day…

21,000 feet! Hawaii Tandem Altitude Record set with Skydive Hawaii in December

And the next day I got to go on a private tour of the Navy Submarine the USS Cheyenne.

Inside the US Navy Nuclear Sub the USS Cheyenne

I’d like to thank all of my sponsors… you can check out their sites by clicking on their ads on the columns.  I’d also like to thank my wife and son for allowing me to get away from them at times to do some of this crazy stuff.

I’d also like to thanks the companies that have asked me to visit their properties, restaurants, attractions, etc.

But most of all… I’d like to thank you… the readers of this site.  Without having folks reading this site… I wouldn’t be motivated to do many of the things I do.

Mahalo to all of you and have a great, safe, and prosperous 2012.

Touring “The Legend” – The US Navy Nuclear Attack Submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773)

The US Navy has been very kind to me over the last few years, inviting me to some very unique experiences and this past Sunday I got the opportunity to have another one!

I was invited to tour the US Navy Nuclear Attack Submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) with a friend of mine from high school.

Commander Gary A. Rogeness, Me, Tracey Hewitt Hawkins and Matt Heaps board "The Legend"

We started the tour by meeting up with Commander Gary A. Rogeness who welcomed us and briefed us about the history of the US Navy’s Submarine Fleet and about the history of the USS Cheyenne itself.

Notice the bell?

Anytime a “ranking” officer either leaves the submarine or boards the submarine… the bell in the picture is rung notifying folks that a ranking officer is boarding or leaving the submarine.

The only way in and out of a submarine

After answering some initial questions, Commander Rogeness turned the tour over to Senior Officer Alvarez who then lead us down a tiny hole in the top of the sub down to the first level of the submarine.

Alvarez conducts the tour of the submarine

The sub was launched on April 16, 1995 and Commissioned on September 13, 1996.  The sub is complemented by 17 Officers, 16 Chief Petty Officers and 130 Enlisted Sailors.

Pfft... I wish!

We got to see most of the submarine and there were only a few things that were classified where they didn’t want us taking pictures of stuff.

The Perioscope

While the sub was in port… it wasn’t carrying any Tomahawk Missiles at the time… however it is capable of launching both Tomahawk Missiles as well as these MK48 ADCAP Torpedoes.

a MK48 ADCAP Torpedo

MK48 ADCAP Torpedo

They call a Navy member who is enlisted to one of the 52 Submarines in the US Navy a “Submariner” and the screening process to become a submariner is quite strict.   The commander said the thing that he looks for most in a potential Submariner is the ability to work in teams and be good at team work.

Nine folks share these tight sleeping quarters and folks that are tall literally have to sleep in a fetal position, however, they can also sleep in the Torpedo rooms if there is no Torpedoes being stored at the time.

“This is perhaps the most difficult and demanding assignment in the Navy.  There is not an instant during his tour as a submariner that he can escape the grasp of responsibility.  His privileges in views of his obligations are almost ludicrously small, nevertheless, it is the spur which has given the Navy it greatest mariners – the men of the Submarine Service.

Inside the sub

I asked them if they had internet capability out at sea and they said no, however, when they are in port… they can run a coaxial cable to the submarine so that at least they can have cable tv when in port.

Commanders Quarters if I remember correctly

The maximum depth the USS Cheyenne can dive to is in excess of 800 feet and has a maximum speed in excess of 25 knots.

The only real limitation on how long the sub can stay out at sea is the amount of food the kitchen staff has available

The Cheyenne is one of the most advanced nuclear submarines in the world and creates it’s own water and oxygen.

Alvarez talks about some of the technology on board the submarine

As the tour was ending, we met back up with the Commander of the Submarine to ask a few more questions and learn more about the Submarine.  Commander Rogeness is really proud of his crew that is enlisted on the Cheyenne and has nothing but high praise for his officers.

Front side of the commanders coin

Commander Rogeness then took out a Commanders Coin and handed it to me and told us some more stories about submarine life.  I slid the coin back to him but then he said I could keep it!

Back side of a USS Cheyenne Commanders Coin

I’ve been wanting to take a submarine tour for a long time now and I’m stoked that it was one of most capable nuclear submarines in the world that I finally got to take a tour on!  The Commander lead us on our way off the sub and thanked us for visiting his sub!

Commander Rogeness and I in front of the Cheyenne (notice the small Cheyenne pin on my hat!)

Not only did commander Rogeness give me a Commanders Coin… he took the USS Cheyenne pin off his shirt and gave it to me!

Talk about giving me the pin off his shirt!!! Mahalo!

The tour lasted about an hour and a half and I really gained a new found respect for these submariners.  I myself don’t think I could handle it as I’m a bit claustrophobic and I don’t think I could handle long times at sea… That and I need my dang internet!

In the Sioux language, Cheyenne means "aliens" or "people of foreign tongue". The Sioux Indians gave the name "Cheyenne" to the Indian tribe that roamed the plains in this region. The crew of the USS Cheyenne earned the Commander, Submarine Squadron SEVEN Battle Efficiency "E" Award in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Related Posts: