USS Maryland Combines Commands
The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738) combined the blue and gold crews during a crew combination ceremony at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Sept. 21.
Cmdr. Gregory Kercher, Maryland Blue commanding officer, relieved Cmdr. Andrew Kimsey, Maryland Gold commanding officer, as commanding officer of USS Maryland (SSBN 738) for what’s unofficially known as the green crew.
Crew combination ceremonies are unique to Ohio-class submarines. The submarines in Kings Bay each have two separate crews. Having two crews ensures the submarine is on deployment for the vast majority of every year while maintaining crew morale and readiness. While one crew is deployed or performing maintenance at the refit, the other crew is on shore continuing to train in simulators. Every few months the crews swap roles. Since Maryland is scheduled to be removed from the strategic deterrent patrol cycle and begin a refueling and overhaul period in Norfolk, the crews combined.
Kimsey, a Kalamazoo, Mich. native, said his time serving as the gold crew commanding officer couldn’t have been successful without leadership from every level of the chain-of-command. It wasn’t always easy though, Kimsey said.
“Our deckplate leaders actively search for areas to help the ship improve,” Kimsey said. “This thirst for improvement doesn’t happen without a Chiefs Quarters dedicated to leadership. Spring of last year, we realized our leadership was not being effective and the Chiefs Quarters was faced with a challenge: to continue on as they had with poor standards enforcement and discipline or to take ownership of our reputation and reverse our negative performance trend. The Chiefs Quarters rose to the occasion and became the cornerstone of our success.”
Kimsey then went on to speak an additional 10 minutes thanking more than 20 specific individuals in his command, from junior enlisted to department heads, and bragging of their accomplishments.
Kimsey also thanked his crew’s family members for their sacrifice in allowing their husbands, brothers and sons to deploy with him every time.
“Just as important as the crew are our families and loved ones,” Kimsey said. “It is difficult while we are gone, with working mothers suddenly becoming single mothers, dealing with everything from issues at school to potential hurricane evacuation to every household crisis. Loving a Sailor leads to the hardest job in the world; being a Navy spouse. Two ladies stepped forward to help out families and their work to keep families informed and to provide assistance for every crisis that arose was vital to our peace of mind. My ombudsman, Bridgett Wenum and Christina Brandt, performed this task flawlessly.”
Kercher, a Greely, Colo. Native and prior enlisted Reactor Operator, completed two strategic deterrent patrols while in command of the blue crew. He is scheduled to take Maryland to Norfolk for a refueling and overhaul.
Naval Today Staff, September 25, 2012; Image: US Navy