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US Navy - Attack Submarine

SSN 722 - USS Key West


 ssn-722 uss key west insignia crest patch badge los angeles class attack submarine us navy

ssn-722 uss key west los angeles class attack submarine us navy


Type, class: Attack Submarine, nuclear propulsion - SSN; Los Angeles class (Flight II / VLS)

Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock, Newport News, Virginia, USA




Laid down: July 6, 1983

Launched: July 20, 1985

Commissioned: September 12, 1987



Homeport: Apra Harbor, Guam (forward deployed)

Namesake: City of Key West, Florida

Ships Motto: LIBERATE CLAVIS TENACITAS ET INGENIUM (The Key to Freedom is Tenacity and Resourcefulness)

Technical Data: see: INFO > Los Angeles class Attack Submarine - SSN



ssn-722 uss key west phuket thailand 2015
Phuket, Thailand - May 2015

ssn-722 uss key west phuket thailand
Phuket, Thailand - May 2015

Phuket, Thailand - May 2015

ssn-722 uss key west polaris point guam
Polaris Point, Guam - May 2013

ssn-722 uss key west apra harbor guam
Apra Harbor, Guam - March 2013

January 2013

ssn-722 uss key west joint base pearl harbor hickam hawaii
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii - September 2012

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - August 2007

ssn-722 uss key west pearl harbor hawaii
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - August 2007

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - August 2007

ssn-722 uss key west exercise rimpac 2006
exercise RIMPAC 2006 - Pacific Ocean - July 2006

change of command ceremony - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - March 2006

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - November 2005

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - November 2005

uss key west ssn 722 pearl harbor hawaii
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - November 2005

ssn-722 uss key west periscope depth exercise rimpac 2004
at periscope depth during exercise RIMPAC 2004

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - July 2003

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - July 2003

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - July 2003

ssn-722 uss key west
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - July 2003

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - July 2003

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - July 2003

Pacific Ocean - April 1997

ssn-722 uss key west launching ceremony july 1985
launching ceremony - July 1985

ssn-722 uss key west launching 1985
launching ceremony - July 1985


USS Key West (SSN 722):

The third Key West (SSN-722) was laid down on 6 July 1983 at Newport News, Va., by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; launched on 20 July 1985; sponsored by Mrs. Virginia I.-B. Conn, wife of Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management) Robert H. Conn; and commissioned on 12 September 1987 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Capt. Warren N. Lipscomb Jr., in command.

When al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States on 9/11, Key West, 42-year-old Cmdr. Charles K. Merkel in command, steamed toward Bahrain for a liberty port. The Navy immediately diverted her and the boat came about and made speed for the Northern Arabian Sea. “We transitioned from a 10-day transit to a 10-week war patrol,” Merkel afterward summarized. “We answered every call, and we were ready to complete everything we were tasked to do.” Key West and British attack submarine Trafalgar (S.107) sailed independently in the Indian Ocean as the coalition launched the first strikes of Operation Enduring Freedom on 7 October.

On 25 October 2001, allied aircraft and missiles struck ten military target areas in Afghanistan, including three garrisons around Kabul, a target area near Qandahar, one northwest of Shebergan, and one southeast of Mazar-e-Sharif, together with two terrorist sites near Qandahar, and the airfields at Mazar-e-Sharif, Shebergan, and Kabul. Aircraft also dropped 35,000 humanitarian daily rations to refugees northwest of Kunduz, and sprinkled leaflets across northern Afghanistan in four areas and another near Qandahar. Key West contributed to the crescendo of destruction and fired UGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs).

Merkel later recalled that this launch was “no different than firing a torpedo. You can hear the air valves cycling, and your ears can feel the change. Then there is a whoosh [as a Tomahawk’s boosters ignited].” When queried on whether the missiles hit their targets, he responded, “Yes, it was successful. We met all our taskings.”

Following the submarine’s return to Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 11 September 2002, she raised the ensign traditionally known as the First Navy Jack, a flag consisting of a rattlesnake, superimposed across 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes with the motto, “Don’t Tread On Me.”

Key West subsequently deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom I and on 21 and 22 March 2003, she joined 29 other U.S. and British ships and submarines that fired TLAMs against Iraqi command and control facilities, early-warning radar sites, and surface-to-surface missile batteries.

source: US Naval History & Heritage Command

- - -

USS Key West was home ported at the Norfolk Naval Base, Norfolk, VA. She operated out of Norfolk, VA until 1995. During her Atlantic Fleet service, she completed numerous Cold War deployments and supported operations in the Caribbean, Western Atlantic and Mediterranean. USS Key West was awarded the "Hook-em" antisubmarine warfare (ASW) excellence award following her 1990 Mediterranean Cruise. She later was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation Award for her superior performance in Cold War operations during the 1989 and 1990 deployments. USS Key West won the "TOP TORP" Torpedo Shooting Competition in 1992 and was later awarded the Submarine Squadron Eight Battle "E" for that year.

The USS Key West deployed with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Battle Group in 1995. During that deployment she operated in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, Armed Forces Service, and NATO Service medals. Following the 1995 deployment, USS Key West underwent an availability in Norfolk, VA in preparation for her transfer to the Pacific Fleet in 1996. She departed Norfolk in June 1996 and transited the Panama Canal as part of her transfer to the Pacific Fleet. She arrived in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in July 1996 and began operations under Submarine Squadron One.

The USS Key West visited her name sake city in 1987 for a week-long celebration after commissioning, in 1992 and later in 1994. Since reassignment to the Pacific Fleet she has not been able to visit Key West, Florida again.

In April 1997, USS Key West conducted her first Pacific deployment with the Constellation Carrier Battle Group. During this deployment, she operated in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Later that year, USS Key West was reassigned to Submarine Squadron Three. In the next year, she deployed to the Eastern Pacific in support of the Carl Vinson and Abraham Lincoln Carrier Battle Groups, and later supported the 1998 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

From 1998 through 2001 she supported Pacific theater operations in both the Third Fleet and Seventh Fleet area of operations. During this time she participated in numerous bilateral and multilateral exercises with our Pacific Theater partner. Following the 11 September attacks, she was redirected Bahrain to the Northern Arabian Sea where she launched Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles against Afghanistan in October 2001.

In 2003, 2005 and 2007 USS Key West conducted deployments to the Western Pacific in support of Seventh Fleet operations.

In 2007 USS Key West was named "Battle E" for COMSUBRON THREE, given to the best submarine in its squadron, awarded the Arleigh Burke Trophy for the most improved sea command in the Pacific, and awarded the Naval Unit Commendation for its outstanding accomplishments during the deployment.

In 2009 USS Key West was again awarded the "Battle E" award for COMSUBRON Three for outstanding performance during the 2009 WESTPAC deployment.

In 2012 USS Key West shifted home port to Naval Base Guam to support Seventh Fleet operations as a forward deployed unit.

source: wikipedia (2015)





ssn-722 uss key west patch insignia


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