NORFOLK (NNS) -- Cmdr. William B. Swanbeck relieved Cmdr. Stephen E. Mongold as commanding officer of Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Montpelier (SSN 765) during a change of command ceremony held on Naval Station Norfolk, April 18.
Distinguished guests, such as retired Vice Adm. John Donnelly, previous commander of the U.S. submarine forces from 2007-2010, and Capt. Blake Converse, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic, chief of staff. Capt. Paul Snodgrass, commodore of Commander, Submarine Squadron 6 was the principal speaker at the ceremony.
"Today I will speak glowingly about the professional performance of USS Montpelier's Commanding Officer Steve Mongold," said Snodgrass. "But let us remember that any naval officer who succeeds in command does so because of the hard work and dedication of our Sailors and their families."
A Navy change of command is really a celebration of the successful performance of the ship, but more so the crew, who undoubtedly assumes the personality and very essence of its commanding officer.
"While you have been in the arena of command, you have looked every day to improve your ship, your crew and yourself," said Snodgrass. "Montpelier has come a long way with you in command, and ships that have had you in a leadership role have had great success."
Snodgrass alluded to the fact that Montpelier was COMSUBLANT's nominee for the 2015 Arleigh Burke trophy for the most improved submarine crew.
Mongold assumed command of Montpelier in January 2013, attributed his successes to the leaders who preceded him, his current mentors, his crew and his family.
"As much as this crew has turned their world upside down to accomplish the mission, it would be foolish of me to believe that team Montpelier is fully contained within the hull of the ship," said Mongold. "For the crew to take a ship to sea, the ship must be made ready, and team Montpelier extends well beyond the hull and into the halls of our supporting organizations here on the waterfront."
Mongold acknowledged Snodgrass and the staff at Commander, Submarine Squadron 6 for their investment in the ship and her success.
"I am grateful to you all for your empowering leadership style, candid feedback, and unwavering support as we all worked together to keep Montpelier moving in the right direction," said Mongold.
In his closing remarks, Mongold thanked his Mom, Dad and Grandmother and referred to them "in all intents and purposes" as his first shipmates.
"Thank you for showing me the way from my earliest days," said Mongold. "Our home was built on love, trust, accountability, with a splash of guilt. But it was a good formula for providing the foundation for what laid ahead. I am grateful to you for my work ethic, and my sense of commitment and integrity."
Mongold also thanked his wife and children for their unwavering support.
Snodgrass presented Mongold with the Meritorious Service Medal for his exceptionally meritorious conduct as commanding officer of Montpelier, and specifically for his outstanding performance while conducting challenging missions vital to national security during his recent deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
"I can think of no other Naval officer who brings more passion, more energy and drive every day he wakes and every hour he is on the deckplate working with his officers and crew," said Snodgrass.
Mongold will report to U.S. Fleet Forces Command to serve as a Senior Member on the Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board. Swanbeck's reports to Montpelier after serving as the executive assistant to the director of Maritime Headquarters, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
A native of Huron, Ohio, Swanbeck graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Swanbeck took the opportunity to emphasize on what he witnessed about Montpelier's current crew.
"I have been blown away with the level of professionalism, integrity and amazing work ethics that this crew has demonstrated," said Swanbeck. "I think it's a reflection of the leadership of Commander Mongold as well as the chief of the boat, really all the leaders from the deckplate up. I'm thrilled and humbled and I look forward to leading you through the transitions in the coming years."
Montpelier is the third ship in the U.S. Navy to be named for the city of Montpelier, Vermont. Built by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company and Drydock Company, the "Mighty Monty" was commissioned March 13, 1993. Montpelier was the first submarine to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The submarine has a crew complement of 15 officers and 129 enlisted, 360-feet long, and can travel in excess of 25 knots.
Fast-attack submarines like Montpelier have multifaceted 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.
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