USS Newport News Welcomes New Commanding Officer
Story Number: NNS100420-23
By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Force, Atlantic Public Affairs
NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Newport News (SSN 750) held a change of command ceremony April 20 at Naval Station Norfolk.
Cmdr. J. Carl Hartsfield relieved Cmdr. David W. Alldridge as commanding officer.
"The change of command ceremony is the culmination of two to three years of around the clock work for one officer, and the commitment of the relieving officer to dedicate his time and talents to the incredible challenge of command and its unrelenting responsibility," said Capt. Frank Cattani, commander, Submarine Squadron 8, principal speaker at the ceremony.
"Submarining is a complex business and even the best planned operations rarely go smoothly or exactly according to plans. To be successful, a captain must learn from his mistakes, correct his shortcomings, and have the dedication, confidence and will to stick to his task and succeed. Tenacity and perseverance are critical character attributes for a submarine commanding officer. Cmdr. Alldridge you have clearly demonstrated tenacity during you lengthy three-year command tour, and few submarine commanders have faced and overcome as many challenges as you have during your command."
Cattani presented Alldridge with his second Meritorious Service Medal citing his "superior leadership, demanding standards, keen prioritization, planning and persistence in directing the outstanding performance of his crew."
"This ceremony is not just a celebration of the detaching commanding officer, for there is no success based on just one man's achievements," said Alldridge, who assumed command in April 2007 as the submarine's 10th commanding officer. "Instead it is a celebration of each man who has served onboard over the past three years and has contributed to overcoming the substantial challenges required to return the Newport News, from the bleak conditions we started this journey together following the at-sea collision in 2007, to her now glorious performance during a recent deployment.
"The lifeblood of a ship is manifested in the resolve of her crew. The tremendous commitment and dedication of each crew member has been instrumental in the resurrection of this warship to her rightful place amongst the elite of this force. Although the challenges have been great, your performance rose at each of them, meeting them with determination and resolve. When things got tough, you always stood tall and fought the valiant fight. You are the reason we celebrate today this significant milestone in the history of this great warship. It has been my distinct privilege to serve as your commanding officer."
While Alldridge will report to the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., Hartsfield is ready for the challenge of command and continue to build upon the Newport News legacy.
"I am proud to assume command of this fine ship today, and to become part of such a strong crew filled with motivation and determination," said Hartsfield. "I believe most Americans think the crown jewels of our submarine force are, first and foremost, fine ships like the one you see here today. However, those in the service will tell you that it is the crew that wins the day.
"They are all volunteers, exhaustively screened, trained to the highest standards, and sacrifice everyday for our great nation. I stand before you today proud and ready to lead this crew through future challenges – and thankful to serve in the world's finest submarine service.
Fast-attack submarines like Newport News have multi-faceted missions. They use their stealth, persistence, agility and firepower to deploy and support special force operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary's military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity, and ensure undersea superiority.
Newport News has a crew complement of 13 officers and 121 enlisted. The submarine, the eighth ship to bear the name of the Virginia shipbuilding city, is 360 feet long, displaces 6,900 tons of water, and can travel in excess of 20 knots.
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