USS Topeka Arrives For Overhaul
On Dec. 16, fast attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) and her crew of 13 officers and 120 enlisted personnel arrived at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
While at the shipyard, Topeka will complete various maintenance work and several system upgrades. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is committed to maximizing the material readiness of the Fleet by delivering on-time, affordable quality, safely achieved.
Topeka is the third ship of the United States Navy named for the city of Topeka and the fourth "Improved" Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine. The improved modifications of this class include retractable bow planes, a reinforced sail for under ice operations, vertical launch Tomahawk Cruise Missile capability, ship quieting enhancements, and an integrated combat systems suite. Assigned to the Pacific Fleet, Topeka was commissioned Oct. 21, 1989, and is homeported in San Diego, Calif.
Topeka recently conducted a six-month Western Pacific deployment from March through September 2012 in support of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Maritime Strategy, which includes maritime security, forward presence, sea control, and power projection. During the deployment, Topeka covered more than 35,000 nautical miles and executed missions vital to national security. Topeka also participated in U.S. and multinational naval exercises. The ship's port visits included Yokosuka, Japan; Republic of Singapore; and Guam.
Topeka’s Commanding Officer, Commander James Belz, a native of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., graduated from the State University of New York Maritime College in 1992 with a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering and a Third Mate’s license in the Merchant Marine. Following graduation and commissioning, Cmdr. Belz completed follow-on submarine training in Orlando, Fla., Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Groton, Conn.
Cmdr. Belz served aboard USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) from July 1994 to June 1997 completing one North Atlantic deployment.
Following his tour aboard Philadelphia, Cmdr. Belz reported to the United States Naval Academy as the 28th Company Officer, obtaining his Masters in Leadership Education and Human Resource Development from the Naval Post Graduate School.
Cmdr. Belz also served aboard USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) (Gold) as the Navigator, where he completed multiple strategic deterrent patrols, and USS Key West (SSN 722) as the Executive Officer where he completed a Western Pacific deployment.
On Feb. 14, 2011, Cmdr. Belz assumed command of USS Topeka (SSN 754).