Submarine Squadron 6 Welcomes New Commander

Story Number: NNS121006-09Release Date: 10/6/2012 9:26:00 AM
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By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 6 held a change of command ceremony aboard Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Montpelier (SSN 765) at Naval Station Norfolk, Oct. 5.

Capt. Blake L. Converse relieved Capt. Eugene "Gene" E. Sievers as commander, Rear Adm. Richard P. Breckenridge, Commander, Submarine Group 2, served as guest speaker.

"It is a pleasure and honor to join this amazing crowd and welcome a new commodore to Squadron Six as we pipe Commodore Gene Sievers ashore for the last time," said Breckenridge. "In 2010 there were winds of change in the submarine force. With the ongoing shift of submarines from East to West Coast, the shore-side support structure was no longer well-matched to the footprint of the vessels that remained. Force-wide, three attack submarine squadrons were dissolved, and the ships that were formerly attached to those squadrons were selectively re-assigned to the remaining squadrons. In this swirling movement of people and ships and organizations, Squadron Six in Norfolk was the eye of the hurricane.

"It was a significant undertaking in adroitly leading seven ships, multiple shore organizations and a large staff through these winds of change. Riding the perfect storm of all three at the same time required a heroic, demanding, and a savvy aggressive leadership in the finest tradition of our most gifted leaders. The firm hand at the rudder, the seasoned navigator at the chart, the strong anchor in the storm was Gene Sievers. He had the unique gifts that made him the perfect man to guide Squadron Six in the storm, and its aftermath in Norfolk during 2010. He wove everything together into an inspirational, yet workable, philosophy that drove force efforts to the highest peak of operational readiness.

Breckenridge presented Sievers with his second Legion of Merit award commending him for outstanding oversight in preparing the combat readiness and unrivaled performance of seven Los Angeles-class attack submarines on deployments to the North Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and the Southern and Central Command Areas of Responsibilities.

A native of Johnstown, Pa., Sievers assumed command of SUBRON 6 in September 2010.

"The Squadron Six that exists today is a testament to a submarine force that continually assesses the strategic environment and boldly makes decisions to align its resources to prepare its forces to deploy in support of the national security strategy," said Sievers.

"Despite shrinking resources and fiscal constraints every ship in the squadron has deployed in the last two years, three are currently deployed and the rest of the squadron is entering their final preparations for their next challenge. Three different AORs and their associated combatant commanders have been served by these efforts with superior results.

Sievers graduated from West Virginia University in 1987, and received his commission through the Nuclear Power Commissioning Program. He also earned a master's degree in Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology.

His sea commands have been onboard the Benjamin Franklin-class ballistic-missile submarine USS George Bancroft (SSBN 743) homeported in Charleston, S.C.; as weapons officer onboard the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 74); and as executive officer onboard Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720), homeported in Groton, Conn.

Sievers commanded Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Columbia (771), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During his tenure the ship deployed twice to the Western Pacific Ocean, and earned two Meritorios Unit Commendations, the 2005 Pacific Fleet Arleigh Burke Trophy, the 2005 Commander, Submarine Squadron 3 Battle "E" award, and the 2006 Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Golden Anchor Retention Award.

His shore tours have been as an instructor and division director for the Enlisted Reactor Plant Technology at Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Fla.; operations officer at Commander, Submarine Group 10, homebased in Kings Bay, Ga.; as the Policy Directorate and executive assistant to the director of Policy, Resources, and Requirements for Commander, U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Neb.; as the senior member of the Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic (SUBLANT) Tactical, Readiness and Evaluation Team; and as the SUBLANT Submarine Command Course instructor.

Converse is a 1987 graduate of Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He also holds master's degrees in Space Systems Engineering and Applied Physics from the Navy Postgraduate School, in Monterey, Calif.

"I am truly honored to be entrusted with command of this great submarine squadron at such a pivotal time in our nation," said Converse. "The pace of submarine operations continues to grow, the mission sets are expanding, and we are continuing to integrate the newest technology to make these incredible warships even more capable. Three of the six submarines assigned to Squadron Six are deployed today across the globe conducting vital missions and participating in multinational exercises to fortify our international relationships. The quality of the Sailors on these submarines is also remarkable."

SUBRON 6 exercises operational control over seven Los Angeles-class attack submarines home ported in Norfolk, Va. The squadron staff is responsible for training and preparing their submarines and crew in all facets of operations, including tactical and operational readiness for war, inspection and monitoring, nuclear and radiological safety, and development and control of submarine operating schedules.

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