YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Richard A. Correll relieved Rear Adm. William R. Merz as commander, Submarine Group (COMSUBGRU) 7, Task Force 54 and Task Force 74, at the Fleet Activities Yokosuka Benny Decker Theater Aug. 17.
Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, presided over the ceremony and gave remarks as the guest speaker.
"To the men and women of Submarine Group 7, you are truly players in a remarkable chess game being played in fascinating times on the grandest of scales," said Aucoin. "I am not able to tell of your many deeds, but I have witnessed the results of your labor and I can assure everyone here -- the effort that these men and women put into their mission is worth it, and I am particularly proud to reflect on the work of Bill Merz, my 'chess master.'"
Merz assumed command of COMSUBGRU 7 March 2015. He was responsible for submarine and undersea operations in the Pacific and Central commands, a combined area which spans from the International Dateline to the Suez Canal. In his previous flag assignments he served as commander, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command and commander, Task Force 77. He also commanded the deep submergence vessel (DSV) "submarine NR-1," Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Memphis (SSN 691) and Submarine Development Squadron 12.
"I could not be more proud of how the team has come together over the last 17 months," said Merz. "There is simply no other collection of undersea warfighters who can do what they do, every hour of every day. I very much look forward to their continued success under Rear Admiral Correll, a superior officer perfectly prepared for the challenges that lie ahead."
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Commander, Fleet Submarine Force, Vice Adm. Seiichi Doman, also provided remarks praising Merz's tenure as COMSUBGRU 7.
Correll was most recently director of Joint and Maritime Operations (N3) at U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk. He commanded Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) and Submarine Squadron 11 in San Diego, and has served on Navy teams who have received the Naval Unit Commendation, the Meritorious Unit Commendation and Battle Efficiency, or Battle "E," awards.
"I couldn't ask for a better team of warriors to tackle the challenges we face here in the Indo-Asia-Pacific," said Correll. "I'm both humbled and excited for the opportunity to join the Group 7 team."
COMSUBGRU 7 is comprised of submarines deployed to the Western Pacific and the Middle East; two forward-deployed submarine tenders and four fast attack submarines homeported in Guam; five surveillance towed array sensor system vessels and three oceanographic survey vessels when tasked for theater anti-submarine warfare operations.
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