The only commanding officer to lead the Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) on its Western Pacific deployments bid farewell to his crew at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, June 24.
Cmdr. Richard Rhinehart relinquished command to Cmdr. Gary Montalvo, USS North Carolina’s newest skipper.
In command for more than three years, Rhinehart took his submarine and crew on two lengthy Western Pacific deployments, and numerous shorter underway periods.
“Together, we took the finest ship of the Pacific Fleet to sea!” he said.
“We fought to keep the boat at sea, operationally proficient and ready to execute any and all tasking,” said Rhinehart.
During the ceremony, Rhinehart was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his successes commanding North Carolina from April 2011 to June 2014.
As Montalvo assumed command of North Carolina, he thanked Rhinehart for turning over a great ship and a highly enthusiastic crew.
Commissioned May 2008, North Carolina is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to carry the name North Carolina. The Virginia-class boat was built by General Dynamics Electric Boat Division in Groton, Conn., and Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., and joined the fleet in December 2006.
The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
Press Release, June 25, 2014; Image: Wikimedia