Los Angeles-Class Attack Submarine USS Norfolk Holds Change of Command


Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Norfolk (SSN 714) held a change of command ceremony aboard Naval Station Norfolk, Nov. 18.

Cmdr. Gregory M. Zettler relieved Cmdr. Douglas A. Jordan as commanding officer.

Today’s ceremony has its purpose – the transfer of the total authority, responsibility, and accountability of command of USS Norfolk from Cmdr. Douglas Jordan to Cmdr. Gregory Zettler,” said Vice Adm. John M. Bird, director, Navy Staff. “It is truly a most significant event, significant for the ship, the crew, and these two superb officers.Through this change of command, we strengthen the respect for authority which is vital to good order and discipline. Unlike so many other job reliefs and turnovers, there can never be any doubt as to who is in charge of this warship, who is the captain.

“There is no more difficult, demanding, or challenging assignment, than command at sea. The authority is absolute, the responsibility is heavy, the experience unequalled and unforgettable, and the rewards – which become embedded in the very fabric of your life – are priceless. The culture of command is the linchpin to the effectiveness of our navy; operational excellence, forged in the experience of mariners since the days of Odysseus. The captain of the U.S. Navy warship stands as part of a long, unbroken lineage that stretches from the very founders of the Continental Navy, through the great captains of America’s wars-at-sea, and now from Cmdr. Jordan to the next generation of twenty-first century leaders like Cmdr. Zettler.

“This change of command is particularly meaningful for me, only my own meant more. Cmdr Doug Jordan was far and away my best junior officer when I commanded USS Scranton. I knew then in 1995 that one day I would see Doug achieve this incredible milestone, the pinnacle of a naval career – command at sea. Thank you for letting me be part of this special day.”

Capt. Eugene Sievers, Commander, Submarine Squadron Six, then presented Jordan the Legion of Merit for “taking the reigns of a perennially struggling command, initiating a dramatic turnaround, and personally driving vast improvements in battle readiness which resulted in recognition by the Chief of Naval Operations awarding Norfolk the 2010 Atlantic Fleet Arleigh Burke Trophy for most improved command Navy-wide.”

Jordan, who earned his commission through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Program at Auburn University, where he graduated with distinction in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering, addressed the crew, families and guests.

“When I arrived at the command, I took a hard look to take stock of where we were,” said Jordan, who took command of Norfolk, August 14, 2009 as the submarine’s 15th commanding officer. “What I found is that the crew of Norfolk was an amazing group of individuals with their own special skills, goals and personality quirks. These individuals, once given a common goal and set of standards, formed a pretty impressive team, capable of rising to meet any challenge put before them and we certainly had plenty of challenges. We had a stringent training regimen we needed to complete for deployment preparations while at the same time we were faced with several complex repairs to our aging warship. We also had two major inspections and deployment certification standing between us and our departure.

“We managed to deploy to the Mediterranean and (Arabian) Gulf in the spring of 2010. Throughout the deployment the crew never failed to astonish me with their ability to meet any adversity we faced with resolve and we were highly successful in accomplishing every mission we were assigned. The crew performed flawlessly and I am extremely proud of the fact that we were able to complete our tasking without having to pull off station for either material or personnel issues.

“Through hard work and the determination of the men of Norfolk to never accept ‘good enough,’ we went from being the bottom ship in the squadron to the top, and was awarded the 2010 Atlantic Fleet Arleigh Burke Trophy for the most improved unit in the fleet. For the benefit of my crew and Cmdr. Zettler, I’ll pass on to you what our Submarine Force Commander told me at the award ceremony. He said that this is a great honor and he’s proud of Norfolk, but, just remember, you don’t want to make a habit of needing to be the most improved.”

After taking a deep breath, Jordan gave the crew some parting wisdom.

“To the men of the mighty warship Norfolk, it has truly been an honor, a privilege, and my pleasure to be your captain. I will always remember the men who pushed the limits and have shown the willingness to go the extra mile to make this ship better. You have done all I have asked of you and given far more. I shall never forget your devotion to duty nor the friendships that have grown out of that. I know that you’ve heard me say the words ‘leave it better than you found it.’ With your help I hope I have managed to do just that. I know that you have great things in store for your future, and ask that you show Cmdr. Zettler the same outstanding support you’ve given me. This ship is on the right path but don’t rest, never stop trying to improve.”

Prior to commanding USS Norfolk, Jordan served in a joint billet for Commander, U.S. Strategic Command as Deputy Director for Strategic Forces, Nuclear Weapons and Force Protection for Commander, Submarine Force; Executive Officer onboard USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) (Gold); ASW instructor at Tactical Training Group Atlantic; Combat Systems Officer onboard USS Newport News (SSN 750); Navigator onboard USS Hampton (SSN 767); Division Director of Officer Electrical Engineering at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command; and USS Scranton (SSN 756).

Zettler’s previous assignment before taking command of USS Norfolk was on the Navy Staff as the Deputy Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations for Joint Matters.

The training and mentorship provided by former shipmates, and the rich experiences on previous submarines have had a tremendous influence on me,” said Zettler, a native of Springfield, Va., and a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. “I would not be here today were it not for the camaraderie, teamwork and sense of purpose gained from those experiences. I have also been fortunate to learn under some of the submarine force’s best and I recognize they are in attendance today. Thank you for your leadership and mentorship.

“To the warriors of USS Norfolk, I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work as we begin preparations for our upcoming deployment. I have impressed by your resiliency, positive attitude, and desire to improve. I look forward to sailing with you for the next several years.

“Cmdr. Jordan, you and your lovely wife Kelly have my deepest appreciation for all you have done to foster Norfolk’s many successes. Your support during the turnover process has been outstanding. Thank you, and I know every crewmember of Norfolk wishes you fair winds and following seas.”

Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim and retired Vice Adm. Al Konetzni also attended the ceremony.

Built by Newport News Shipbuilding and commissioned May 21, 1983, the 360-foot submarine is the third naval ship to be named in honor of the city of Norfolk. It is also the Navy’s 133rd nuclear-powered submarine and 89th of the attack submarine class.

Homeported in its namesake city, the crew compliment includes 16 officers and 118 enlisted Sailors.

Naval Today Staff , November 21, 2011