Fellow flag officers, distinguished guests, commanders, families and friends of
the Submarine Force, I deeply regret not being able to attend today's important
change of command ceremony. It took the combination of an earthquake and a
hurricane to keep me away - in the end, I simply could not connect the dots.
I treasure every chance I get to visit Groton and I was very much looking forward
to the chance to see the team in the home of the U.S. Submarine Force. And
although I could not be there in person, I did not want to let this day go by without
expressing my admiration and respect for the two officers involved in today's
ceremony Admiral Mike McLaughlin and Admiral Rick Breckenridge.
Mike, your tour has been spectacular. Under your command, the Group TWO
team led more than 6,000 military and civilian personnel, including five Attack
Submarine Squadrons, the Regional Support Group, two Naval Submarine
Support Centers, Naval Submarine Torpedo Facility, Yorktown and five new-
construction ships teams.
It was the team of Sailors and civilians of COMSUBGRU TWO that trained our
crews, sharpening their submarining skills, and preparing our 27 East Coast
attack submarines for 17 deployments to the CENTCOM and EUCOM theaters.
While deployed, these boats contributed to overseas contingency operations
such as Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and ODYSSEY DAWN, as well as
counter piracy, counter terrorism and counter proliferation. ICEX 2011 was a
resounding success all around due to the Submarine Group TWO team. During
their time ashore, the crews were impeccable ambassadors for our nation.
In addition to your operational successes underway, your team worked just as
effectively in the incredibly challenging shipyard environment, overseeing the
construction or overhaul of 8 submarines, and safely returning our boats back to
sea and back to the fight. This included five new-construction submarines, to
include the deliveries of USS MISSOURI and PCU CALIFORNIA – months
ahead of schedule and under budget.
For all these accomplishments – and these are just a few examples – 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. They will remember you
forever for your compassion.
As you and turn over command, I am personally and professionally grateful for
your service and friendship. I wish you, Karen, Matt, and Mark fair winds and
Rick and Melanie, welcome back to Groton. For Ryan, Anna, Emily, and Erick,
and for the whole Breckenridge clan, it's great that you can be here to share this
special day. Kyle and Anna, I know that you really surprised your dad and made
his day when you arrived yesterday.
Rick, you have a tremendous operational record, including both submarine and
squadron command here. More recently, I am personally grateful for your
service in the Undersea Warfare Division at OPNAV N87. There, you were
instrumental in crafting the Design for Undersea Warfare, doing the hard
intellectual work to define the Integrated Undersea Acquisition Strategy - our
Future Forces Line of Effort. But you went far beyond just devising the strategy -
you were also tireless in making sure that our key national leaders and the entire
Submarine Force understood and supported our way ahead. As well, your
operational experience and insights were critical to developing the other lines of
effort in the Design. You are the perfect person to relieve as Commander of
Submarine Group TWO, and your first test in command is making its way up the
eastern seaboard and will arrive here on Sunday! I wish you every good fortune,
and pledge my full support to your success.
In closing, please accept my regrets for being unable to attend. I truly wish that I
could be here to extend my congratulations in person, but trust that you
understand the circumstances. We are doing all that we can to ensure that we
work together to weather the storm, ensuring that our crews, our boats, and our
families are safe and sound. God bless and thank you for allowing me to
contribute this letter.
VADM John M. Richardson
Commander, U.S. Submarine Forces