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    USS Michigan Gold Changes Command

    USS Michigan Gold Changes Command

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony | 191108-N-VH385-1095 KEYPORT, Wash. (Nov. 8, 2019) Capt. Michael Beckette, right,...... read more read more

    KEYPORT, Wash. – The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) Gold Team held a change of command ceremony at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Nov. 8.

    Capt. Michael Beckette relieved Capt. James A. Belz as the Michigan Gold Team commanding officer in a ceremony attended by distinguished visitors, guests and crew members.

    “It really has been a blast, and I have really been blessed serving with some great people,” said Belz, who then went on to tell a special story about more than a dozen different Sailors, ranging from petty officers, to chief petty officers, to junior officers that he served with aboard Michigan.

    After serving two and a half years in Guam and at sea, the submarine returned to Bremerton and entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in May to undergo a maintenance period.

    “You are going to begin to come together as a crew,” Belz told his Sailors, in referring to the ship’s maintenance period. “It will get harder before you get out. That’s okay. It is only by overcoming challenges that you can form the bonds that will make you a crew.”

    Belz said of his successor, “Mike, I couldn’t be happier to be turning over this crew to anyone but you–steeped in nuclear wisdom and [being] tactically savvy is a rare combination, and its exactly what this ship needs to get out of here efficiently.”

    Rear Adm. Douglas Perry, commander, Submarine Group 9, attended the event as Belz’s guest speaker.

    “Jim Belz is just the kind of guy that you enjoy being around, and he was able to use that gift to get the best out of his Sailors,” said Perry. “His crews consistently radiate camaraderie and a singularity of purpose. That positivity and his ability to build camaraderie, in the truest sense, is what I believe Jim’s legacy will be.”

    “So as we say goodbye to Jim, we also have the opportunity to welcome Captain Michael Beckette,” said Perry. “I believe Michael is the right man at the right time for USS Michigan. USS Michigan is lucky to have you, as you have spent your own career, like Jim, making a difference. I am confident in Michael’s ability to lead and I’m confident that he will continue to build the legacy of Michigan.”

    Following Perry’s remarks, Belz and Beckette read their orders, and changed command, making Beckette the 18th Michigan Gold Team commanding officer.

    “First of all I want to congratulate Jim on an amazing tour and an illustrious career,” said Beckette.
    “To the Michigan crew, I am humbled to have the honor of serving with you as we work to return this incredible warship back to a combat ready status. I pledge to work every day to help you grow as individuals and as a team so that we are ready to take the mighty Michigan back to the front lines.”

    Not only was this a change of command ceremony, but it was also Capt. Belz’s last tour in the Navy. Belz retired after serving 32 years in the Navy.

    “It is time for me to go,” said Belz. “You will create your own experiences and memories that you will have the rest of your life. It is one of the things that makes the Navy special and the submarine force incredible.”

    With his departing words to his crew, Belz gave them a little wisdom and advice to carry forward with them through their lives and careers.

    “Choose your liberty buddy wisely [and] write you own story,” said Belz. “Your life is going to happen. You can do nothing and let things happen to you, or you can do something you want to do the way you want to do it.”

    For more news from SSGN 727, visit



    Date Taken: 11.08.2019
    Date Posted: 11.08.2019 19:01
    Story ID: 351204
    Location: KEYPORT, WA, US 

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