USS Michigan Holds Change of Command Ceremony

USS Michigan Holds Change of Command Ceremony

Command of the Blue Crew of the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) changed hands on April 12 during a ceremony at the Naval Undersea Museum.

Capt. Erik A. Burian relieved Capt. James E. Horten.

“It’s the captain that spreads the accolades for the ship’s successes, but bears the burdens of the problems we all endure on his own shoulders. It’s this burden, responsibility and privilege and everything else that goes with it, that make command in our Navy such a wonderful thing,” said Capt. Jerry Logan, commander of Submarine Squadron 19. “For this great USS Michigan Blue Crew, Jim Horten has been that man for these last two years.”

Horten assumed command in July 2011. Under his leadership, the Blue Crew completed two successful Western Pacific operation periods, one forward deployed voyage repair period and two major maintenance periods.

During the ceremony, Horten thanked his staff, family and friends of the Michigan, and – for the last time – his crew.

“I say my crew because my name and professional reputation … have been attached to the actions and the accomplishments of the fine Sailors to my left,” said Horten. “When they succeed, I get the credit and appropriately pass it on to them because they did the work. When we have issues the burden goes on me and that’s right because I have the broad shoulders and the four stripes to carry it.”

Horten’s tactical expertise enabled the ship’s strike team to be cited as “the best strike team ever” by inspectors from Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

During Horten’s remarks, he praised the values of his crew aboard Michigan that led to the submarine’s accomplishments under his watch.

“After nearly two years of commanding these American heroes, I can talk all day about their specific exploits, but trust me when I tell you that they have each earned the pride that you see in their body language and even more so deep within their eyes,” said Horten.

Before executing his new orders, Horten performed one last act as Blue Crew commanding officer by awarding Lt. j.g. Nicholas Laine with his submarine warfare “dolphins.”

“It’s an honor, I don’t really know what to say about it except Captain Horten was a great commander, someone who I highly respect and in many ways was a mentor,” said Laine. “I think that was the best way for me to get my dolphins, to have that as his last act.”

After assuming command, Burian addressed the crew and congratulated Horten for his tour aboard Michigan.

“Captain Horten, you are to be truly commended for training a skilled, resilient, and motivated team on Michigan Blue. The exploits that you detailed make you proud to serve with this team,” said Burian. “I am energized to lead this exceptional cadre of submarine warriors and relish this opportunity to get back on mission.”

During Burian’s previous tour, he served as the deputy commander for training at Submarine Squadron 7 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Some of his responsibilities included the certification of nine submarines to prepare them for deployment in the Western Pacific.

Horten’s next duty is with the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Michigan and its sister SSGN, USS Ohio (SSGN 726), are homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and forward deployed to Guam.

Naval Today Staff, April 14, 2013; Image: US Navy