Japan: Submarine Group Seven Holds Change of Command Ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka

Submarine Group Seven held a change of command ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, June 18. 

During the ceremony, Rear Adm. Stuart B. Munsch relieved Rear Adm. Phillip G. Sawyer as commander of carrier strike group (CSG) 7, also assuming responsibility as commander of Task Forces 54 and 74.

Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift, commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet, was the honored guest and key speaker during the ceremony. Swift commended Sawyer for a job well-done in his capacities as CSG 7, commander task forces (CTF) 74 and 54.

“No one can match the prowess of U.S. submarine capabilities, and nowhere are those capabilities honed to such a fine edge or executed with such frequency than here at Seventh Fleet by CTF-74 under Admiral Sawyer’s leadership,” said Swift. “Nowhere are submarine operations more complex, more active, more important, and more successful than here at Seventh Fleet. That success is a result of Phil’s insightful leadership, innovative approach to optimizing force posture, and a steady hand guiding day to day tactical operations.”

Under Sawyer’s command, CTF 54 and 74 achieved operational success of more than 38 submarine deployments and 70 special submarine missions. As the theater anti-submarine warfare commander for Seventh Fleet, Sawyer brought tactical and operational expertise to bear across multiple warfare areas and greatly advanced war fighting integration with allied submarine forces.

In recognition of his achievements, Sawyer received the Legion of Merit Award.

“This award really belongs to the men and women, the civilians and Sailors, who make up group seven,” said Sawyer. “Day in and day out you perform Herculean tasks, and they are executed for us across ten time zones, from the international dateline all the way out to the Suez Canal. And you always keep faith with our golden rule, and that is: do whatever is necessary to enable the success of our assigned units. Their success is our success. … I sincerely thank each and every one of you for your dedicated service.”

Sawyer expressed his gratitude to his counterparts and friends in the Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces, Republic of Korea Navy, and the Sailors, civilians, and families who are a part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces in the Seventh Fleet. He felt privileged to have lived and worked in Japan, and will miss the people and the friendships that he developed during his tour as commander, Submarine Group Seven.

“It’s very hard to give up something you cherish, but it’s easier giving it up to a friend,” said Sawyer. “And Stewart Munsch is not only a very good submarine officer; he is a good friend who I have known for many years. Submarine Group seven will be in very good hands under his leadership.”

Munsch, a 1985 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, recently served as deputy director, undersea warfare division (N97B) in the Pentagon since August 2011.

Sawyer will report as commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“Admiral Sawyer has been hand picked to lead the entire Pacific submarine force for a reason,” said Swift. “His performance here gives United States Navy leadership the confidence that he – more than any other – has what it takes to shoulder such great responsibility and excel in the execution of those responsibilities.”

Press Release, June 20, 2013