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Michigan (Gold), Nebraska Capture Battle "E" Honors

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For the second straight year, the Ohio-class submarines USS Michigan (SSGN 727) and USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) were honored Jan. 1 by Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet as recipients of the 2011 Battle Efficiency Award, or Battle "E."

Nebraska, a ballistic missile submarine based at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, saw its Blue and Gold crews receive their second consecutive Battle "E" for Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 17. The Gold Crew of Michigan, a guided-missile submarine also based in Bangor, took the honors for Submarine Squadron 19, one year after Michigan's Blue Crew was honored.

"Through adept leadership and two-crew teamwork unmatched in the SSBN force, Nebraska excelled in her strategic mission and all additional tasking," said Capt. Paul Skarpness, commander of SUBRON 17.

Nebraska returned to Bangor on Dec. 10 after a 45-day strategic deterrent patrol, the boat's fourth patrol of the year. In all, Nebraska spent more than 170 days on patrol in 2011.

"I am very proud of both the Blue and Gold crews' performance over the past year," said Cmdr. Jason Wartell, Blue Crew commanding officer. "To receive the Squadron 17 Battle 'E' for the second consecutive year is a testament to the exceptional leadership of the chiefs and officers, and to the commitment of Nebraska's Sailors to serve our nation with the highest degree of pride and professionalism."

Michigan came back to the Pacific Northwest last summer after more than 14 months deployed to the U.S. Seventh Fleet area of responsibility. The deployment included two operational periods for the Gold Crew under the command of Capt. Phil McLaughlin, who turned over the Gold Crew to Capt. Robert James in November.

"Michigan (Gold) excelled in all areas throughout 2011, with an exceptional performance on their 2011 WestPac deployment and all external inspections," said Capt. Dennis Carpenter, commander of SUBRON 19. "The crew maintained an esprit de corps that allowed them to successfully accomplish challenging tasks and improve their warfighting readiness to the highest possible levels."

The Battle "E" is an award of merit presented to the most proficient submarine crew in each squadron and recognizes sustained superior technical performance and continual combat readiness throughout the year. The awards are presented by the commodore of each squadron to the submarine under their command which has demonstrated the highest level of battle readiness during the evaluation year.

Article by Lt. Ed Early, Commander, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs