Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Boise (SSN 764) held a change of command ceremony, aboard Naval Station Norfolk, Feb. 22.
Cmdr. Scott S. Luers relieved Cmdr. Brian L. Sittlow as commanding officer.
“Thank you again, Brian, for the true honor of being asked to speak at this very special day,” said Capt. Mark J. Olson, deputy director of Plans and Programs at Commander, Naval Installations Command. “You have made a difference, as the myriad of successes and the long list of accomplishment for Boise and her crew will attest, but even more importantly, in my mind, you have succeeded and still are a very nice person, and there is not a soul here who knows you who would not agree. Thank you, Leslie [wife], for you continued support to Brian and to all the Boise family members and all military family members who are so instrumental in their service member’s continued success.
“I also would like to congratulate Scott Luers on the beginning of what I am sure will be a great command tour. If you read Scott’s biography, you can see he epitomizes the myriad diversity in operational and staff tours that make our service so unique and so successful. Scott, I’d like to welcome you and your family back to the Norfolk area. Having command so near to family will be a great experience for all.
“Brian and Scott, may God bless both of you and all of your families and those of USS Boise. And may God continue to bless our great Nation, our Navy and all the wonderful men and women who serve her so proudly.”
Capt. Blake L. Converse, commander, Submarine Squadron Six, then presented Sittlow with a Legion of Merit. Under Sittlow’s command, Boise completed two highly successful deployments to the European Command theater of operations supporting national strategic goals. The ship was also the most decorated submarine in the fleet, earning the 2010 U.S. Fleet Forces Battenberg Cup as the best ship in the Atlantic Fleet; the 2010 Commander, Submarine Squadron Eight and 2012 Commander, Submarine Squadron Six Battle Efficiency Awards, and other numerous awards for operational excellence.
In addition, Sittlow was recognized for his impressive leadership and accomplishments by being awarded the 2012 Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Inspirational Leadership Award.
A native of Roberts, Wis., Sittlow became Boise’s ninth commanding officer when assumed command, Jan.22, 2010. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993, earning a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering. He earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies in 2009 from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
“I have often been asked about the secret to Boise’s successes over the past several years,” said Sittlow. “The officers fight the ship, the chiefs run the ship, and the crew makes the ship run. Day in, day out, whether standing watch topside on a cold, gusty night, picking out adversary contacts from a complicated sonar display, or having a confident hand at the controls of our reactor plant, the crew always made the ship run. The sons of our American families, heroes all, were the heart-beat of the ship. Six hours on, 12 hours off – day after day, mission after mission, deployment after deployment. The Boise men fought through the monotony of their work, but were always expertly poised to react, track and attack.
“But it goes further than that. It was all supported by our strong, loving families at home, giving us encouragement, and allowing us to carry on with our assignments. Boise, however, is just a small piece to submarine force and the Navy. We are very dependent on the leadership, guidance and support of our operational commanders at home and deployed, and the shore support that keeps our machine moving.
“Cmdr. Luers, it is now your turn. You come to Boise with an impeccable record and a clear cut slam dunk to take Boise into the next chapter of her history. Stealing the words from a former executive officer, you are younger, better looking, more skilled, in better shape, more enthusiastic and all around better submariner than I will ever be. Congratulations! Cherish every moment in Command. You undoubtedly will be a terrific Captain!
“Finally, to the crew of Boise, I am honored and humbled to have been your commanding officer. You are shipmates, in the truest meaning of the word, each and every one of you. Congratulations for everything you accomplished. Keep up the great work that I witnessed every day defending our nation, while serving on board Boise.”
Sittlow’s previous sea assignments have been on board the Sturgeon-class attack submarine USS Archerfish (SSN 678), home ported in Groton, Conn., where he served in various division officer positions in completing two Mediterranean Sea deployments and an Arctic Ocean deployment. He served as the Operations Officer for several military and civilian sponsored missions assigned from 1997 to 1999 on board the Deep Submergence Vessel NR-1, which was a unique U. S. Navy nuclear-powered ocean engineering and research submarine, homeported in Groton, Conn. While assigned on NR-1 he completed a North Atlantic deployment.
After leaving NR-1, Sittlow reported to the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730) (Blue Crew), homeported in Bangor, Wash., where he completed five strategic deterrent patrols as the submarine’s navigation officer. In 2007, Sittlow became the executive officer on board the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Virginia (SSN 774), homeported in Groton, Conn., completing first-of-class operational and technical evaluations during his tour.
Before being assigned as the operations officer at Commander, Submarine Development Squadron Twelve, homebased in Groton, Conn, Sittlow was the first American to complete the Norwegian Submarine Command “Perisher” Course in 2004.
Sittlow’s next assignment will be at Commander, Submarine Squadron Four in Groton, Conn.
Luers is a native of Westminster, Md. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ocean Engineering from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1995, and a Masters in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University in 2007. His last duty station was at Commander, Submarine Squadron Eleven in San Diego.
“All have heard today what the crew already knows – Boise is a ship that isn’t afraid to take on challenging missions and then excels at executing them,” said Luers. “I cannot thank Cmdr. Sittlow enough for his leadership over the past three years, and for being extremely generous and open during our turnover. You will be an inspiration to your Sailors and myself for time immemorial.
“Just as the success Boise has enjoyed was laid by the efforts of Cmdr. Sittlow and his team, so has my presence on this stage been laid by the work – often extremely hard work – of some incredible people around me. Most are here today, and these important people are the foundation of my strength, but a new, unbreakable pillar has been added to shore me up – as I am to shore up them.
“Boise is a national asset, a complex machine of war. You, the Sailors who man Boise and bring her alive, and the families who support you, are national treasures. I respect and thank you for your service. I am extremely proud to be your 10th commanding officer, and I look forward to our continued success far from home shores. Go Broncos!”
In attendance were Dirk Kempthorne, the 49th U.S. Secretary of the Interior (June 2006 – January 2009), former Governor of Idaho (January 1999 – May 2006), and former U.S. Idaho Senator (January 1993 – January 1999); Boise, Idaho Mayor David Bieter; and Tom Killingsworth, chairman of the Boise commissioning committee.
Nicknamed “A One Ship Fleet,” Boise is the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of Idaho’s capital city. Built by Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat Division, Boise was commissioned, November 7, 1992. The 360-foot ship has a crew compliment of 13 officers and 121 enlisted Sailors.
Naval Today Staff, February 25, 2013; Image: US Navy