USS West Virginia Changes Command

Story Number: NNS110909-22Release Date: 9/9/2011 2:41:00 PM
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By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USS West Virginia changed command in Portsmouth, Va., Sept. 9.

Cmdr. Adam D. Palmer relieved Cmdr. Steven K. Hall as commanding officer of the Ohio-class ballistic submarine during a ceremony held at the Naval Medical Center.

Permanently homeported at Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay, Ga., West Virginia is undergoing an engineered refueling overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.

Capt. Stephen Gillespie, commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 16 in Kings Bay, was the principal speaker at the ceremony.

"Steve, what you and your team accomplished is some of the hardest work we place on submarine crews. You have worked hard with Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and your team's ability to work here in relative geographic isolation from the squadron is noteworthy," said Gillespie. "To the crew of West Virginia, I ask for your continued dedication and efforts to returning your ship to its peak warfighting form. Your efforts have made a difference, and your efforts will continue to make a difference. Thank you and godspeed in your efforts to keep our submarine force, 'Second to None.'"

He then presented Hall the Meritorious Service Medal citing his exemplary and outstanding leadership in executing three strategic deterrent patrols, seven major inspections producing outstanding results, and a change of homeport associated with the engineered refueling overhaul.

After the presentation, Hall, a University of Michigan graduate who received his commission through the school's Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Unit, delivered his farewell speech.

"West Virginia has done a lot of great things in the last two-and-a-half years," said Hall, a native of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. "Crew of West Virginia, I want to thank each and every one of you for your efforts. You are all amazing Sailors and have all contributed significantly to our many achievements.

"I appreciate you listening to me and working toward doing everything I asked of you. I fully expect to hear great things about West Virginia well into the future, especially at the end of the overhaul; when I know you will outshine every other Trident that has gone through one in the past."

Hall will be temporarily assigned to the staff of COMSUBRON 16 while awaiting permanent orders.

Palmer's last assignment was on the staff of Commander, Submarine Forces as the Deputy Director for Strategic Forces, Nuclear Weapons and Force Protection.

"Finally for my newly extended family - the crew of the West Virginia and the families that stand behind them - thank you for welcoming me onto the team," said Palmer, a 1993 graduate of Duke University who received his commission through the NROTC unit there. "I am tremendously excited by this opportunity because of the courage and tenacity that you have shown moving families and accomplishing the difficult shipyard entry period. I pledge to you my sacred honor to ensure that your hard work is rewarded by the majesty of our soon-to-be beautiful ship slipping silently beneath the waves one year and eight months from today."

The sole mission of ballistic-missile submarines like West Virginia has been strategic deterrence since their inception in 1960. The SSBN provides the nations' most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability, always ready and vigilant in a secure and survivable posture to rapidly respond to national tasking.

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