JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – The commanding officer of Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 7 passed on his duties during a time-honored tradition of a change of command and retirement ceremony at the historic submarine piers of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on June 16.
Capt. Craig R. Blakely, commanding officer of SUBRON 7, was relieved by Capt. Robert A. Roncska, who recently served as the prospective commanding officer instructor for Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and deputy director of submarine/nuclear power distribution control division (PERS-42) at Naval Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee.
The ceremony’s guest speaker, Rear Adm. Fritz Roegge, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, praised Blakely for his leadership on the waterfront and significant contributions to the Navy.
“The submarine force retains the unique ability to go undetected anywhere in the world and to hold at risk the things that potential adversaries hold most dear,” Roegge said. “Our submarines here in Pearl Harbor, under Commodore Craig Blakely’s charge, are able to do this because they are the world’s most capable submarines, and they are operated by the world’s most capable crews.”
Submarine squadron commanding officers are known by the honorary title of commodore.
Blakely expressed gratitude for the team effort his staff put forth in supporting submarine crews and praised the submarine commanding officers and crews that he served under his leadership at SUBRON 7.
“The staff of SUBRON 7 is the most professional, team-oriented group I have ever met,” Blakely said. “Two years ago, I asked them to help the ships and to help train the sailors. I could not be happier with how they owned the mantra of, ‘We work for the boats, not the other way around.’”
During Blakely’s 24-month tour as commodore, 23 submarine department heads have qualified for command, team members logged more than 1,700 days underway for training and mentoring, and SUBRON 7 submariners achieved zero “below average” assessments on Operational Reactor Safeguard Exams (ORSE).
Roegge also commended Blakely for his years of faithful service.
“We honor Craig not only for his superb leadership of SUBRON 7, but we also celebrate a 28-year career of excellence and service,” Roegge said.
Blakely, who calls Reno, Nevada, home, was awarded the Legion of Merit during the ceremony for his command of SUBRON 7, serving from May 2014 to June 2016.
As Roncska assumed command he commended the staff at SUBRON 7 for their professionalism.
“To the staff of SUBRON 7, I stand before you humbled and in awe of your operational and tactical expertise,” Roncska said. “I am honored to join the SUBRON 7 team and I feel privileged to be your commander.”
Established during World War II, SUBRON 7 has been commanded by 42 different officers, including Medal of Honor winner Rear Adm. Richard H. O'Kane and former chief of naval operations Adm. Frank B. Kelso II.