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Benjamin Relieves Harkins as Montpelier CO

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080727-01
Release Date: 7/27/2008 12:04:00 AM

By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Todd A. Schaffer, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Los Angeles class attack submarine USS Montpelier (SSN 765) held a change-of-command ceremony July 25 on Naval Station Norfolk's Pier 3.

During the ceremony, Cmdr. Mark B. Benjamin relieved Cmdr. Christopher L. Harkins as commanding officer of Montpelier.

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, served as the principle speaker at the ceremony.

"Commander Harkins led this boat and crew to the next level of operations" said Greenert, who served as commanding officer of the USS Honolulu (SSN 718), Harkins' first submarine. "Chris took this boat from potent success to proven success."

Harkins led Montpelier during the transition from a five-month shipyard period that ended late in 2006, through the submarine's first deployment since 2003.

"It was a challenge, taking the crew from a shipyard status to the pointy end of the spear on a deployment and instilling in them the desire to excel."

Montpelier was recognized as having the highest junior enlisted advancement percentage of any boat on the East Coast, with promotions to E-6 and below averaging 57.5 percent in the last cycle for each paygrade. Additionally, Montpelier currently holds the highest re-enlistment rate of all Los Angeles class attack submarines, earning the retention honor roll for the last 10 quarters, the best record in the submarine force.

Harkins is proud of the accomplishments of his Montpelier crew. They maintained the material status of the equipment with no mission days missed allowing them to complete their assigned tasking while deployed. Upon their return, they scored the highest grade possible during their material grade inspections.

"The chiefs and the wardroom did a phenomenal job of running the day-to-day operations of the ship. Because of that, the ship succeeded across the board," said Harkins.

"I proudly accept responsibility of this national treasure whose standards I will try to replicate in your legacy," said Benjamin after relieving Harkins as Montpelier's eighth commanding officer.

Community leaders from the namesake city of Montpelier, Vt., attended the event.

"Never before have I seen a stronger bond between a submarine and its namesake city." said Harkins.

His next assignment will be as deputy commander for Squadron 8 in Norfolk, Va.

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