Submarine USS Michigan Gets New Commander
The Gold Crew of guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) welcomed a new commanding officer as Capt. Benjamin Pearson relieved Capt. Robert James during a ceremony at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Chapel, Dec. 17.
James, who assumed command of the Gold Crew in Nov. 2011, participated in overseas exercises with foreign militaries and took the ship from a dry dock maintenance period to once again being a forward-deployed asset.
“I think we can all learn something about the institution of command from commanders like Bob James,” said Capt. Charles Logan, commander of Submarine Squadron 19. I would ask officers that are in their first command tour to consider the path taken by Bob and Ben both for the significant challenge of this job as an SSGN CO, but also the sheer joy of serving with a crew like Michigan Gold and the significant satisfaction attained by completing such a challenging tour filled with achievement.”
James spoke of Michigan Gold Crew’s successes and memorable moments during his command tour.
“It is the crew that deserves all of the credit,” said James. “Something I recognized way back when I started this path was that for me to be successful I needed to build teams and build up people so they are successful. Thereby I will be successful, and I can say that you all definitely fulfilled that. You are the reason I am successful.”
As his last official act as CO James meritoriously advanced two of his Sailors under the command advancement program (CAP), one to petty officer 1st class and the other to petty officer 2nd class.
“I’ve learned a lot of great things from the captain and after almost 13 years of this, I can’t say I’ve worked for a better one,” said the newly advanced Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Vernon Deschene. “Being capped took me by surprise. There were a lot of really deserving people and I’m just very honored, excited, and happy. I thank Captain James for everything he has done, and I wish him the best of luck.”
Pearson comes to Michigan Gold from the Chief of Naval Operations staff, where he served as Branch Head for Plans, Liaison, and Assessment for the Director of Undersea Warfare.
“I am excited to take over as your commanding officer,” said Pearson to his crew. “We have an amazing ship that provides the nation with a huge arsenal of weapons at our disposal. We owe it to our country to be ready when needed and my goal is to ensure we are in fighting shape as we complete our training cycle and deploy to the Western Pacific.”
SSGNs provide the Navy with an unprecedented combination of strike and special operation mission capabilities within a stealthy, clandestine platform. Armed with tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, SSGNs are capable of directly support dozens of Special Operation Forces.
Press Release, December 18, 2013; Image: Navy