NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander, Submarine Squadron 6 (SUBRON 6) held a change of command ceremony Aug. 1 on board Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Montpelier (SSN 765), Naval Station Norfolk.
Capt. Paul Snodgrass relieved Capt. Blake L. Converse as commander.
Vice Adm. Michael Connor, commander, Submarine Forces, was the feature speaker. He also presented Converse with his third Legion of Merit award citing him for flawlessly directing the maintenance, operational, and combat readiness for nine nuclear-powered submarines.
"It is truly an honor to be here today as we take the time to come together and pay tribute to two outstanding naval officers, Capt. Blake Converse and Capt. Paul Snodgrass," said Connor. "This ceremony, and all it represents, is one of our most cherished and important traditions. It represents the continuing recognition of who we are and what we truly value as a Navy - the absolute nature of accountability, responsibility and the art of leadership. That is important, because the business they preside over is serious business.
"Successful organizations are led by visionary leaders who succeed over and over again. High performance organizations like SUBRON 6 are driven by leaders who delegate responsibility and share credit, but accept total accountability. Blake, your greatest accomplishment - your legacy - will be the people you trained, mentored, and took care of. Our Sailors and their families were always first in your mind and heart. You ensured that they were provided everything we had to maximize their chance of success and quality of life. Your tour here will be remembered as being a pivotal leader, shaping the future of the submarine force. Blake, congratulations on a job superbly well done."
A native of Montoursville Pa., Converse assumed command of SUBRON 6 in October 2010.
"I started my career in the submarine force in 1989 in Norfolk on the USS Lapon, a Sturgeon-class submarine assigned to Squadron Six," said Converse, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State University and a Master's Degree in Space Systems Engineering and Applied Physics from the Navy Postgraduate School. "My first commanding officer, Capt. Peter Flannery, who would also become the commodore of SUBRON 6, was a role model for me, and taught me how to be a naval officer and a submariner.
"Later, I returned to Norfolk and Squadron 6, as executive officer on USS Minneapolis-St.Paul. It was a tough two years, but I learned how to turn around an underperforming ship, how to train men, when to take risks, and how to build a strong command structure. In October 2012, I returned to Norfolk for a third tour, but this time as the commodore of Squadron Six. It was like coming home. I was comfortable in the Hampton Roads area. I had qualified as an officer-of-the-deck in these waters. I had deployed twice out of Norfolk and I had conducted dozens of exercises and operations up and down the Eastern Seaboard. But the squadron looked nothing like the one I left 10 years before - it had subsumed Squadron 8 and the local Norfolk Submarine Support Command.
"The primary job at Squadron 6 is to train, mentor and certify crews for deployment. This broad range of responsibilities would be impossible without the dedication and hard work the squadron's staff of Sailors and civilians who eat, drink and breathe submarining. Finally to the commanding officers and crews assigned to Squadron 6, I thank you for your boldness, professionalism, initiative and sheer determination. I have been honored to have served and sailed with each and every one of you."
Following the change of command Converse will report to Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic (SUBLANT), where he will be assigned as chief of staff.
Snodgrass reports to SUBRON 6 from SUBLANT where he served in several positions. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and a Master's Degree in Engineering from Old Dominion University.
"I would like to thank Capt. Converse and the Squadron 6 staff for a very thorough and professional turnover," said Snodgrass, a native of Seymour, Indiana. "Capt. Converse's leadership has produced top performing commanding officers, a highly motivated and innovative staff and submarine crews that are well-trained ready to fight and ready to win wars. Your mentorship will continue to pay dividends to our force for years to come. Best of luck as you move to the next level of leadership in our Submarine Force.
"For the officers, chiefs and Sailors of the SUBRON 6 staff and submarine crews, it is you who make submarining such an enjoyable profession. It will be an honor and privilege to lead you. I thank you and your families for your hard work and the sacrifice you make for our nation's security."
SUBRON 6 exercises operational control over seven Los Angeles-class attack submarines home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. The squadron staff is responsible for training and preparing their submarine crews 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.
For more information on the submarine force visit, http://www.public.navy.mil/subfor/hq/Pages/default.aspx
For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, Atlantic, visit www.navy.mil/local/sublant/.