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    Tennessee (Blue) Holds Change of Command



    Courtesy Story

    Commander, Submarine Group Ten

    KINGS BAY, GA. (NNS) – The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) (Blue) held a change of command ceremony at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, March 6.

    Cmdr. Justin Kaper relieved Cmdr. Paul Seitz as Tennessee Blue Crew’s commanding officer.

    Capt. Craig Gummer, Commodore of Submarine Squadron 20, was the guest speaker for the ceremony and lauded Seitz’s leadership during his tour.

    "Paul’s leadership is the core of each of his crew’s successes during his command tour,” said Gummer. “Your leadership qualities produced outstanding results and lead his crew in executing the Department of Defense’s top priority mission of strategic deterrence.”

    During the ceremony, Gummer awarded Seitz with the Meritorious Service Medal for his service as commanding officer.

    “You have done an absolutely superb job during your time in command of Tennessee (Blue). You dove head first into the challenges they brought and your results were nothing short of remarkable,” said Gummer.

    Kaper, a native of Washington, Pennsylvania, took command of Tennessee (Blue), which is one of five Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines in the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. Kaper previously served as the operations officer for Submarine Group 10 and as the executive officer on USS Florida (SSGN 728).

    Addressing his crew for the first time, Kaper emphasized, “Everything that we do ultimately derives from our indispensable mission of strategic deterrence. What we do is challenging. It takes a special type of person to do this job, and to do it well. Never forget how important you are, and how important your work is. The fact that you do what you do, and do it well, stops wars. The fact that you do what you do, and do it well, saves lives. That is the honor of our service, and it is what makes all of our sacrifices worth it.”

    Kaper continued to look ahead at the next three years that he would be in command.

    “The next several years will challenge us. They will throw problems our way that we didn’t anticipate, but we will meet those challenges head on and persevere as a team.”

    Seitz, a native of Broomfield, Colorado, has been relieved of his duties as commanding officer since he took command in July 2017. His tour has encompassed four Atlantic Fleet strategic deterrent patrols. His prior commands include USS Houston (SSN 713) where he served as executive officer, and serving on the staff of Commander, U.S. Strategic Command. For his next assignment, he will report to Submarine Development Squadron 5 in Silverdale, Washington.

    Seitz addressed his crew for the last time, acknowledging the support that he and Tennessee had received and highlighting his time he served in command.

    “The Kings Bay family has been exceptionally strong, the infrastructure and operational support outstanding, the maintenance team is second to none and we are grateful to have been a part of it,” said Seitz.
    “As I reflect on the tour, I am humbled by what this team accomplished. We made mistakes and achieved success, and learned to optimize our strengths while mitigating our weaknesses…. I have learned something from each of you, and I appreciate the talents and skills you each bring to Tennessee. There is no way to run a submarine as complex as Tennessee without the expertise and effort put forward by its crew, and you gave me your very best.”

    Seitz ended with his last advice to Kaper and the crew prior to relieving command.

    “Cmdr. Kaper, I am confident that Tennessee will continue to improve under your leadership, and that you will make the team better with your vision of excellence. To the Tennessee team, I challenge you to provide Cmdr. Kaper the same level off excellence you have provided me, and I encourage you to push even harder to achieve excellence.”

    As commanding officer of USS Tennessee, Kaper will be responsible for ensuring the submarine’s full mission capability in order to perform the Department of Defense’s primary mission of strategic nuclear deterrence.

    The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Tennessee was commissioned in Dec. 17, 1988 and is the fifth U.S. Navy warship to bear the namesake of the state of Tennessee. The submarine’s predecessor is the USS Tennessee (BB-43), the lead ship in the Tennessee-class dreadnought battleships commissioned in 1920. She was damaged in the battle of Pearl Harbor and was repaired to go on to become a large contributor in the Pacific campaigns. USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) recently completed her 88th patrol for the Atlantic Fleet, and will continue to do so for the next decade.



    Date Taken: 03.06.2020
    Date Posted: 03.12.2020 12:58
    Story ID: 365056
    Location: KINGS BAY, GA, US 
    Hometown: BROOMFIELD, CO, US
    Hometown: WASHINGTON, PA, US

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