In the photo, Capt. Nicholas Tilbrook (right), commander, Submarine Squadron 17, presents Cmdr. John Hale, from Kingsport, Tennessee, with his end of tour award during the change of command ceremony.
“Command is the single most important display of leadership in our naval organization,” said Vice Admiral Terry Benedict, director, Strategic Systems Programs, guest speaker for the event. “It is the pinnacle achievement of an officer’s career; it is the ultimate vote of confidence by one’s superior officers; and it is a job of immense personal satisfaction and unrelenting pressure. Cmdr. Hale, I congratulate you for your successful tour here as captain.”
Hale assumed command of Kentucky's Green crew April 21, 2015, where he led an integrated crew until they split in June of 2015. During his leadership, the crew completed four strategic deterrent patrols and four maintenance refit periods, and they demonstrated above average on operational proficiency during Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO) 26, culminating in the successful launch of two TRIDENT II (D5) test missiles. They were also selected to conduct Follow-On Commander’s Evaluation Test (FCET) 53, resulting in the launch of four TRIDENT II (D5) test missiles. The crew also received the Retention Excellence Awards for 2015 and 2016.
"It has been my honor and privilege to serve as the commanding officer on USS Kentucky Blue these last 31-months,” said Hale. “When I relieved, the day after the refueling overhaul had been declared officially complete, we had a long road ahead of us. We’ve been all over the Pacific, from the equator to Alaska, and today, Kentucky proudly stands that watch on the front lines of strategic deterrence."
Most notably, under Hale’s leadership, the crew completed the boat's first strategic deterrent mission since 2011, following a 40-month Engineered Refueling Overhaul (ERO) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to extend the life of the submarine for another 20 years.
Hale's next assignment is Commander, Submarine Squadron 17, where he will serve as the deputy.
"In the long tradition of the sea, it is almost time for me to pass the reins of command to another," said Hale. "Cmdr. Ken Roman is an impressive naval officer, who has spent his career preparing for this day. From our discussions during the turnover process, it is obvious to me that he is ready to take Kentucky on to continue to do great things. Shipmates, thank you for serving with me as we accomplished this important mission."
Roman comes to Kentucky Blue from Millington, Tennessee, where he served at Commander, Navy Recruiting Command. “To the war fighters of USS Kentucky, I am humbled to lead such an amazing crew of submariners,” said Roman. “I value your trust, honesty and self-improvements, and look forward to serving with you.”
Kentucky is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, providing the most survivable leg of the nation's strategic deterrent forces.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda R. Gray/Released)