by SOPHIA H. BROOKS, Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice, U.S. Navy
SILVERDALE, Wash. – The Blue crew of the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726) held a change-of-command ceremony onboard Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash., on Feb. 17.
During the ceremony, U.S. Navy Capt. Micah Maxwell relieved Capt. Brian Freck (a native of Vienna) to assume the duties and responsibilities as Ohio’s commanding officer.
Freck had assumed command of USS Ohio’s Blue Crew in January 2020. (Like others of its class, the submarine has two full crew complements – dubbed Blue and Gold – rthat otate duty on board.)
Rear Adm. Douglas Perry, director, Undersea Warfare Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, served as the ceremony’s guest speaker.
“SSGN command is one of the most challenging assignments in our Undersea Force, and for that we rightly commit that assignment to our seasoned O-6 submarine officers,” said Perry.
Under Freck’s leadership, the crew of Ohio deployed to the Western Pacific, completing an eight-month operational period out of Guam. During that time, Freck and the crew successfully performed the highest-visibility submarine mission conducted last year, contributing to the team’s earning the 2021 Submarine Squadron 19 Battle “E” award.
“These success stories demonstrate that, under Brian’s leadership, America’s oldest submarine contributed to keeping America safe and secure,” said Perry. “He did not do it alone; I know he would be the first to tell everyone. The crew is fully responsible for the ship’s success.”
Ohio is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name, and is the first in her class of ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) and guided-missile submarines (SSGNs). She was commissioned Nov. 11, 1981, and became the first of four Trident SSBNs to convert to SSGNs, completing its conversion Feb. 7, 2006.
Armed with tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, Ohio has the ability to conduct large-volume, short-notice strike missions and covertly deploy special-operations forces.
USS Ohio was launched in April 1979 and commissioned on Veterans Day 1981. The ship was sponsored by Annie Glenn (wife of then-U.S. Sen. John Glenn); then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and Adm. Hyman Rickover spoke at the commissioning ceremony.
The submarine is 560 feet long and, owing to its nuclear reactor, has an unlimited range and the ability to stay submerged for months at a time.
The submarine carried a complement of around 15 officers and 140 enlisted personnel.