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USS Olympia docks here

Sailors visit Olympia, do community service

Machinist Mate 1st Class Brandon Brown of the nuclear power submarine USS Olympia, pours paint during a community service visit to Olympia. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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MM1 (Machinist Mate 1st Class) Brandon Brown carefully poured white paint from a five-gallon bucket into a bright orange paint tray.

"I like doing this for the community," the native of Texas said as he rolled the paint onto a wall inside Olympia's Salvation Army building.

Not far away, MM1 Arturo Madrigal engaged in a struggle to put some paint high up on the wall.

Short of stature but long in attitude, Madrigal endured the good-natured chatter about his lack of height from his boat mates.

"This is about giving back to the city that our boat is named after, and it is also about presenting a positive image of what we do," said Madrigal.

MM1 Dylan Weeks, from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, fills bags with the Gateway Rotary Club for the Homeless Backpacks nonprofit organization in Olympia during a namesake visit for the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717). Photo credit: MCS 1st Class Amanda R. Gray/Released

The work Brown, Madrigal and their mates were doing made an impact.

"I am very appreciative of the work these sailors are doing," commented Maj. Bill Lum, commander, Salvation Army, as sailors cleaned up rooms and prepared to paint them.

"Their visit came as a bit of a surprise to us, but I think this is a wonderful gift.

About 70 sailors assigned to the Los Angeles-class fast attack nuclear submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717), visited Olympia for a namesake visit.

The "USS" stands for "United States Ship".  As to the "SSN," it is a Navy hull classification symbol.  The "SS" denotes a submarine; the "N" denotes that it is nuclear-powered.

The sailors' visit strengthens a tradition of community service.

Cmdr. Benjamin Selph, commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717), from Prescott, Arizona, meets with veterans from the Olympia Elks Lodge during a namesake visit. Photo credit: MCS 1st Class Amanda R. Gray/Released

"We try to do these events every couple of years," explained MCS (Mass Communications Specialist) Amanda Gray, a public affairs official assigned to Commander, Submarine Group Nine.

"The last time the boat was here was in 1998, but the last time that part of the crew came to visit and engage in community projects was last year."

The boat is currently tied up at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for the visit.

The USS Olympia is the second ship named after Olympia, WA.  Commissioned in 1984, it is the 29th boat of the Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine fleet.  

It is 362-feet long, displaces 6,900 tons, and can be armed with Mark-48 torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The first USS Olympia (C-6) is a cruiser commissioned to service from 1895 to 1922.  It is currently a museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

While Brown and his boat mates painted, other sailors packed backpacks to be given to homeless people, cleaned up parts of downtown Olympia, handed out food at the Interfaith Works Winter Warming Shelter, attended a lunch at the Olympia Yacht Club, and participated in a host-a-sailor scavenger hunt throughout the downtown area.

"This is great for us and the city," observed LTJG (Lieutenant, Junior Grade) Trevor Whitney, a sonar officer, as he picked up a paint roller.

"Volunteering in the city our boat is named after is something special."

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