News: USS Pennsylvania Blue Changes Command
Story by Chief Petty Officer Ahron Arendes
By: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Johndro, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest
KITSAP-BANGOR, Wash. - Cmdr. John E. Cage relieved Cmdr. Gustavo Gutierrez as commanding officer of Pennsylvania.
Capt. Charles Logan, commander, Submarine Squadron 19 was invited as guest speaker and had words of appraisal toward the crew.
“Both Blue and Gold crews completed strategic navigation and nuclear weapons acceptance inspections,” said Logan. “The two crews teamed to conduct the missile loadout and then each crew completed its part to the demonstration and shakedown operation, culminating in the launch of a test missile. Finally, each crew conducted their first post-overhaul strategic deterrent patrol, fully returning Pennsylvania to the forefront of the strategic deterrence mission.”
“Pennsylvania must continue to operate for the second half of her life that has been made possible by Captain Gus Gutierrez and this great crew,” Logan added.
Following his words, Logan then proceeded to announce the Meritorious Unit Commendation for both crews from the Chief of Naval Operations.
Gutierrez addressed the crew and reflected on his time aboard and moments with his crew.
“Leading the ship over the past three-and-a-half years has presented a unique opportunity,” said Gutierrez. “When I reported there was no power or fuel on board, the ship had a number of very large holes cut in the hull, and it was even very difficult to walk throughout the passage ways.”
“But at every turn the crew was ready to meet the challenge; I’d like to say they are game day players,” he added.
While on Pennsylvania, Gutierrez led the crew through a refueling overhaul, crew split, the certification for the ship’s return to strategic service, and the crew’s first post overhaul deterrent patrol. During this period, the ship was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation on two occasions.
On assuming command of the vessel, Cage had these words for his new crew.
“Thank you for the professionalism during the turnover process,” said Cage. “For more than 50 years, the ballistic missile submarine has served as the keystone of America’s enduring defense and I am honored to join you as your commanding officer. I promise never to forget that this is a privilege, and I look forward to going to sea with you in the service of our great nation.”
Pennsylvania’s mission is to prepare for and ultimately deter war. She is a key part of the strategic deterrent triad, which includes ballistic missile submarines, B-2 and B-52 bombers, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.