The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Mississippi (SSN 782) conducted a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Feb. 26.
Cmdr. Edward Barry, from Cortland, New York, relieved Cmdr. Heath Johnmeyer, from Rolla, Missouri, as Mississippi’s commanding officer during the ceremony, which was held at the Parche Memorial on base.
"What I love about the crew is their ability to withstand whatever is thrown at them and figure out how to succeed," said Johnmeyer. "Their resilience and mental toughness is astounding to me."
Under Johnmeyer's leadership, Mississippi executed first-in-class missions during a seven-month deployment in the Western Pacific, operating in U.S. 7th and 3rd Fleet areas of operations. He also led the ship to complete two emergent dry-dock availabilities and recently, a successful entrance into an extended Chief of Naval Operations maintenance availability. Mississippi received the 2020 Hugh McCracken Award for best Chiefs Mess. The crew also received the 2018 Commander, Submarine Squadron 1 Battle Efficiency ("E") Award.
"I am going to miss this crew,” said Johnmeyer. “Working with the best young men and women America has to offer is truly rewarding."
Johnmeyer is going to the Naval Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut, to be the prospective commanding officer instructor.
Rear Adm. Blake Converse, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, was the guest speaker at the ceremony.
"Heath, you've done an incredible job leading the crew of the Mississippi over the last three years," said Converse. "It's an emotional experience to relinquish command. To this point, you've spent your lifetime preparing for command, you've invested your heart and soul, and many sleepless nights, in directing the course of the ship and her crew, and now it's time to turn over the helm."
Barry comes to Mississippi from the National Defense University Eisenhower School.
"I look forward to the opportunity to return the warship USS Mississippi to the fleet fit to fight, to develop future leaders of the U.S. submarine service, and to strengthen the support of our extended Navy family — our spouses, children, and loved ones," said Barry.
Mississippi's keel was laid down June 9, 2010 and was commissioned June 2, 2012. Measuring 377 feet long and displacing more than 7,800 tons, Mississippi has a crew of approximately 140 Sailors. Mississippi is capable of supporting various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.