Jacksonville's reputation as a Navy town is largely due to the surface ships at Mayport Naval Station and the aircraft at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, with the majority of military activity in Northeast Florida taking place above the ground and water.
But for the last 3 1/2 decades, the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Jacksonville has been providing plenty of underwater publicity for the military-friendly city as it's patrolled waters across the globe.
But the Jacksonville returned from its final deployment Aug. 10 to its home port at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, where it will remain until it is time to decommission the aging submarine, according to the Navy.
It is the only Navy vessel ever named for the city.
"Everyone aboard performed their duties exceptionally well," said Master Chief Electronics Technician Kevin Rollert, chief of the boat. "Being deployed for eight months is challenging, and the crew stepped up to the challenge and executed perfectly."
The final deployment consisted of 209 days out to sea and took the crew to port calls in Bahrain, Guam, Oman and Singapore, according to the Navy.
The submarine has called Hawaii home since transitioning from Norfolk, Va., in 2009 where it was home-ported since its commissioning in 1981. During that transition the submarine made its final stop in its namesake city for a week-long visit.
The boat hosted politicians and dignitaries during that stop, much like it did when then-U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw toured the submarine in 2003. It visited Jacksonville much more frequently when it trained in the Atlantic Ocean out of Norfolk.
The Jacksonville's crest features a modified version of the city's seal with Andrew Jackson on a horse in front of the rising sun, with a submarine and the hull number SSN 699 below.
The submarine's nickname, "The Bold One," is a play off the city's longtime slogan of "The Bold New City of the South."
Members of the crew wear patches with the crest, so a piece of Jacksonville was seen by the public wherever the submarine stopped.
Much of the Navy's submarine culture is shrouded in secrecy as the community is often called "The Silent Service," so most details of the Jacksonville's specific missions are still considered confidential.
There are 40 active Los Angeles-class submarines, but the Navy is phasing the older ones out as Virginia-class attack vessels are built.
The Los Angeles submarines have the capabilities for undersea warfare, surface warfare, strike warfare, mining operations, special forces delivery, reconnaissance, intelligence collection and carrier battle group support and escort.
The Jacksonville was in the Mediterranean Sea during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York as part of the Enterprise Battle Group, according to the Navy. It was the only submarine deployed in the area and was used to gather intelligence as the nation moved to retaliate.
Built in Groton, Conn., the Jacksonville's keel was laid in 1976 and was christened in 1978. But its long service life wasn't without problems.
A fire broke out while the Jacksonville was getting a refueling overhaul at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 2004, according to the Navy, but the nuclear reactor was not involved.
In 1982 the Jacksonville experienced its first collision when it struck the Turkish vessel General Z. Dogan near Norfolk as the merchant ship was headed out to sea.
The submarine also hit a barge in 1984 and the container ship Saudi Makkah in 1996 -- both collisions in the Chesapeake Bay, according to the Navy. A periscope on the Jacksonville struck a fishing vessel in the Persian Gulf in 2013, knocking one of the submarine's two viewing devices off.
It was never damaged in combat, and it appears that will always be the case as it exits at the end of the year when it's scheduled to reach the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington state.
The submarine will be inactivated so the hull can be recycled ahead of its official decommissioning at some point next year, according to the Navy.
The secretary of the Navy chooses all the names for future ships, and there are no plans in place for another USS Jacksonville anytime soon.
That can always change if the right people push for a second Navy vessel to honor the city.
--This article is written by Joe Daraskevich from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.