The U.S. Navy Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717) was decommissioned after 36 years of service, Feb. 5. Though COVID-19 mitigation prevented the gathering of Olympia crews, families and supporters from bidding farewell to the submarine in person, a limited number of crew members participated in the production of a decommissioning video, which included well-wishes and farewells from eight Olympia commanding officers. Olympia arrived in Bremerton, Washington, to begin the inactivation and decommissioning process at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Oct. 29, 2019.
“For 36 years, crews of Olympia worked hard and dedicated their time to the job, and applied the best of themselves – ourselves,” said Cmdr. James Steffen, from Tempe, Arizona, Olympia’s final commanding officer. “We can now look back, tally our efforts, and say with certainty, we earned more than enough to pay the price for success.”
Former Washington Secretary of State, the Honorable Ralph Munro, served as the virtual ceremony’s keynote speaker. “Our community loved this boat, every person that served onboard, and all that she did for our nation,” said Munro. “This is not just another submarine, this is our boat and we are sorry to see her go… God speed my friends, America is safer because of you.”
“The thing that I’ll take away from this experience onboard Olympia is the essence of our motto, which is ‘Este Paratus,’ – Always Ready,’” said Master Chief Electronics Technician (Communication) Arturo Plasencia, from Duncan, Oklahoma, chief of the boat. “We’ve demonstrated time and time again over the last several years what we can do. To me, that and the resiliency of the crew, is what I’d like to continue to inspire through the Sailors I lead in the Navy.”
“To have served with Olympia before she decommissioned [brings up] a mixture of emotions,” said Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Elvis Castillo, from New York. “Submarining is not easy, it’s a team sport, and you have to rely on your shipmates for a lot of things. It’s the people that make it… I made some life-long friends on Olympia and it’s been a very rewarding journey.”
USS Olympia (SSN-717) is a Los Angeles-class submarine of the United States Navy. She is the 30th Los Angeles class nuclear powered fast attack submarine. Olympia is the second ship of the U.S. Navy to be named for Olympia, Washington. Commissioned Nov. 17, 1984, Olympia was the second U.S. Navy vessel to be named for the city of Olympia, Washington. The boat’s mission was to seek out and destroy enemy ships and submarines, and to protect U.S. national interests. At 360-feet long and 6,900 tons, Olympia could be armed with MK48 advanced capability torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles. Olympia completed a final deployment, Sept. 8, 2019. The submarine’s ability to support a multitude of missions, made Olympia one of the most capable submarines in the world.