USS Providence returns from Libya

Groton — The USS Providence returned to the Naval Submarine Base today from a six-month deployment during which the sub launched missiles into Libya.

The Groton-based submarine was part of a group of American and British ships and submarines that launched a missile assault on Libyan air defenses beginning on March 19 in support of a no-fly zone.

Cmdr. Raymond Gabriel, the commanding officer, said he couldn't discuss the details of the operation, but did say that the Providence was part of a joint coalition that enforced a United Nations convention in order to "protect freedom, ours and our allies."

"We got the call from the president and our commanders and we were ready to go," Gabriel said, noting that any sub on the waterfront could have done the same thing but the Providence was in the "right place at the right time."

More than half the crew members had never deployed before and the average age is 23, Gabriel said. They performed miraculously and grew professionally, he added.

While waiting for their husbands to arrive, many of the spouses said they were very proud and happy that the sub is home safe.

"They were doing what they had to do," said Frisia Lara, of Mystic, whose husband is an electronics technician on Providence. She called her husband, Armando, "my hero."

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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