Stoner relieves Pitts as Commander, Submarine Squadron 7
By MC1 Ronald Gutridge,
COMSUBPAC Public Affairs
Release Date: 6/3/2012
(PEARL HARBOR, HI) - Capt. Rick Stoner relieved Capt. James Pitts as Commander Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 7 at a time-honored change of command ceremony at the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Aug. 3.
Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Rear Adm. James Caldwell, guest speaker at the event, spoke on Pitts' exceptional performance with his responsibilities as commodore of the submarine squadron.
"You have led the way for submarines in the Pacific and lived up to the legacy of Squadron 7," said Caldwell. " You left a mark on the professional development of every Sailor under your command and you leave a legacy as a leader who is well respected by his peers."
Following his remarks, Caldwell presented Capt. Pitts with the Legion of Merit for deploying nine successful submarines to the Western Pacific, and conducting seven deployments "vital to national security."
In his closing remarks, Caldwell expressed his satisfaction and appreciation for the crew on the squadron staff as well as the crews of the nine submarines that fell under Pitts' leadership.
"Getting these submarines underway and mission capable for any tasking takes incredible leadership," said Caldwell. "While I can't divulge the details, I can assure those here today that this team has conducted numerous missions that directly support the defense of our nation, and their collective work will have a major impact in the Pacific for years to come"
Pitts expressed his gratification and appreciation for his squadron staff as well as the crews of the submarines of Squadron 7.
"The submarines in this squadron are magnificent marvels of modern technology and that power would be useless without the most import element, the professionals that make it happen," said Pitts. "The best part of my job was the opportunity to work with the tremendously talented commanding officers and their crews. It is these professionals that deploy forward and carry out the tasking. They absolutely do their part to live the Design for Undersea Warfare and maintain our preeminence as the world's best submarine force."
As Capt. Stoner assumed command of Squadron 7, he focused on the assignment and command to which he is now assigned.
"I would like to first thank Capt. Pitts and the entire Squadron 7 team for their exceptionally warm welcome and professional turnover. I am impressed with your hard work and enthusiasm," said Stoner. "One of the Squadron's success areas had been training and mentoring the submarine crews. I want to continue this emphasis, with a particular focus on mastering the fundamentals. I believe that by mastering the fundamentals, we establish a firm foundation for excelling at the more challenging aspects of submarine operations."
Pitts will transfer to Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group for his next duty assignment. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Pitts also attended the Naval Postgraduate School where he earned a Master's degree in National Security Affairs. His submarine assignments include USS Grayling (SSN 646), USS Plunger (SSN 595), USS Hammerhead (SSN 663), USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN709) and USS Tucson (SSN 770).
Through the years, 59 submarines have been assigned to COMSUBRON 7 with nine Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast attack submarines currently assigned. The squadron has been commanded by 41 different commodores, including Medal of Honor recipient Rear Adm. Richard H. O'Kane and former Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Frank B. Kelso II.