(JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR HICKAM, Hawaii) – After two years at the helm, Rear Adm. Phillip G. Sawyer turned over duties as commander of Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC), and commander of Task Force 134, to Rear Adm. Frederick J. "Fritz" Roegge in a ceremony at Sharkey Theater on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 3.
Having assumed command in August 2013, Sawyer ran the daily business of 60 percent of the U.S. Submarine Force. This included oversight of the Pacific component of the nation's ballistic missile submarine force as Task Force 134. Sawyer was instrumental in the integration of women as members of eight submarine crews and has laid the groundwork for women to enjoy further opportunities to serve in the submarine community.
"In the submarine force, our center of gravity is the individual submarine, operating independently, far, far forward," Sawyer said.
During his command, Sawyer deployed 42 submarines through 29 attack and guided missile submarine deployments and 40 strategic deterrent patrols in support of six combatant commands.
Sawyer, a native of Phoenix, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 with a bachelor of science degree in systems engineering. He received a master's degree in engineering management from Old Dominion University.Sawyer's leadership provided COMSUBPAC's forces with a vision for maintaining dominance in the undersea domain while guiding the professional and personal development of submarine force personnel.
He was instrumental in maintaining a constant focus on forward operations with consideration to the Pacific Rebalance, resulting in the location of four submarines to Naval Base Guam.
Sawyer's guidance for improving worldwide undersea rescue capabilities, resulted in the certification of state-of-the-art rescue vessels assigned to Undersea Rescue Command.
Sawyer will remain in Hawaii, taking over as deputy commander and chief of staff for U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Adm. Cecil B. Haney, commander, U.S. Strategic Command, was the ceremony's guest speaker. Haney also received the report of relief for Task Force 134 from both Sawyer and Roegge, while Adm. Scott H. Swift, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, received the report of relief for the Pacific Submarine Force.
"The reach and the endurance of our submarine force as part of our whole of government rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is vital to regional stability, maritime security, the world's economic engine and assuring our allies both in and beyond this region," said Haney.
Haney said that under Sawyer's leadership, the Pacific Submarine Force was prepared to carry out vital missions in the service of the United States while supporting our allies and ensuring freedom of navigation throughout the Pacific.
"I would also like to salute all the Sailors and our civilian workforce, who operate, maintain and provide security for our submarines, day-in and day-out, for our nation. They are the best in the world," Haney said.
During the ceremony, Sawyer received the Legion of Merit for his superior service to the Pacific Submarine Force.
Sawyer said he was convinced that COMSUBPAC is the best "two-star job" in the Navy, and described Roegge as a "Submarine Force superstar."
"SUBPAC is in extremely good hands," said Sawyer.
In his final remarks, Sawyer expressed his gratitude to the men and women of the Pacific Submarine Force.
"What you do everyday matters. It matters to our nation, our friends, our partners, our allies and it matters to any country who may seek to undermine the security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region," Sawyer said. "I thank you for your service and sacrifice.
"The productive work started by Sawyer will continue under the watch of Roegge, who most recently served as director, military personnel plans and policy division, at the office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C.
Roegge, an honors graduate of the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering, was commissioned through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program. He earned a master of science degree in engineering management from the Catholic University of America and a master of arts degree with highest distinction in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.
As Roegge assumed command, he expressed his pride in the new assignment at COMSUBPAC.
"All of us submariners are the products of the proud history and traditions of our submarine force," Roegge said. "There's no better place to remember that than here in Pearl Harbor."
"This is an exciting time to be a submariner," Roegge told those who had gathered for the change of command ceremony. "Our submarine force will lead the way once again, deterring conflict, but being ready to prevail should deterrence fail.
"The Pacific Submarine Force provides anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, precision land strike, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and early warning and special warfare capabilities to U.S. Pacific Command and strategic deterrence capabilities to U.S. Strategic Command.