The Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN-780) conducted a change of command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 8.
Cmdr. Carlos Martinez, from Atlanta, Georgia, relieved Cmdr. George Howell, from Southern Pines, North Carolina, during a ceremony which took place at Commander, Submarine Squadron 1.
“My proudest moment of the past three years was having the opportunity to work with the toughest and most resilient crew in the submarine force, who successfully completed every milestone and overcame major challenges,” said Howell. “Despite the challenging circumstances to prevent and mitigate the spread of germs on a submarine, this crew’s enthusiasm, fantastic attitude, and sense of camaraderie is infectious and palpable. This crew proves over and over that nothing can stop Missouri.”
Capt. Wes Bringham, commander, Submarine Squadron 1, was in attendance as the guest speaker.
“Cmdr. Howell did a fantastic job guiding his crew through a two-year depot availability, finishing early which is a huge win for the Submarine Force as it returns an operations crew to the Pacific Fleet just when it is most needed,” said Bringham. “He did this by focusing on the attitude of his team, teaching them that individual behavior has effects on others. His singular focus on creating an outward mindset paid off, with the ship meeting every milestone.”
Under Howell’s leadership, the submarine changed homeports from Groton, Connecticut to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. They completed a two-year extended dry-dock selected restricted availability (EDSRA) in the shipyard five-days early and were the first recipients of the Battle Efficiency (Battle E) Award for a unit in the shipyard.
“To the Mighty Mo families, words cannot express the value you bring to the mission,” said Howell. “You enable us to disappear without communication for long periods of time knowing that everything will be OK at home. As if that isn’t enough, throw in the challenges of distance learning, and all the technical equipment and skill needed to keep up and help our children. How you juggle so much, I will never know, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do for us. We do not say thank you nearly enough.”
Howell’s next assignment will be in Naples, Italy, where he will serve on the staff of Commander, Task Force 69 and Commander, Submarine Group 8.
“I am honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve as the fourth commanding officer of USS Missouri (SSN 780),” said Howell. “Good luck to Cmdr. Carlos Martinez and the crew on their upcoming journey. Hooyah Mighty Mo!”
Martinez comes to Missouri from Millington, Tennessee, where he served as the Submarine Officer Assignments Branch Head and Executive Officer Detailer at Navy Personnel Command.
“I am so excited to be here and in command of the greatest submarine in the Navy,” said Martinez. “I am really humbled to be part of such an incredible ship and crew with such a profound legacy.”
The 7,800-ton Missouri is 377-feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and capable of diving depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. Missouri is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship - reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.