News: USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) combines crews
Story by Chief Petty Officer Ahron Arendes
BANGOR, Wash. - The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) combined its Blue and Gold crews during a crew combination change of command ceremony Nov. 21 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
Capt. Jeffrey Joseph, Gold Crew commanding officer, assumed full command of Nebraska's combined Green crew from Cmdr. Jason Wartell, who had led Nebraska's Blue Crew since May 2011, as Nebraska is preparing for an upcoming refueling and overhaul period.
"While the physical strength of the ship depends on the keel, and the capabilities of the ship depend of the installed equipment and systems, the performance of the ship depends primarily on the leadership of the chief's quarters - they are the backbone of the ship," Wartell said. "Combined with a talented wardroom and a hard working crew, Nebraska performed at a high level over a long period of time."
During Wartell's tenure, Nebraska Blue completed three strategic deterrent patrols. In addition, Nebraska's Blue and Gold Crews captured two major awards for operational excellence in 2011 - the Battle Efficiency Award, or Battle "E", and the 2012 Navy League's Trident Submarine Outstanding Performance Award.
The successes Wartell specifically mentioned were Gold Crew completing a 105-day patrol this year and the many advancements in Blue Crew's chiefs quarters.
"This promotion cycle alone Nebraska Blue Crew generated three master chiefs, three senior chiefs, and six new chiefs. These are disproportionate numbers for a crew this size (approximately 155) Nebraska didn't just get lucky and get the best new sailors. This level of success was ultimately due to the mentorship of [my chiefs of the boat and engineering department master chiefs]," said Wartell.
Nebraska will next prepare for its trip to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, where it will begin an engineered refueling overhaul. The overhaul, which will include a refueling of the submarine's reactor, is expected to extend Nebraska's service for 20 more years.
"The coming three years will be every bit as demanding as the last and will require all of us to pull together. Blue or Gold are irrelevant. There is only Big Red!" said Joseph. "It is for us, who continue the proud tradition of this ship, to remain dedicated to the unfinished work which Cmdr. Wartell and all those who have served before us so nobly advanced."
Wartell's next assignment will be to Commander, Submarine Squadron 17 in Bangor, Wash.
"Thanks guys. It's been an honor serving with you," Wartell said to the Blue Crew. "Thank you all, and God bless the Nebraska crew."