Submarine Squadron 3 disestablishes as Squadron 1 changes command

(Top) Capt. Stanley Robertson, Commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 1, is piped ashore, having been relieved as commodore by Capt. James Childs at a change of command ceremony held at the submarine piers on board Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Feb. 12. (Above) Capt. James Childs, the outgoing commodore of the Pearl Harbor-based submarine unit, Commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 3, speaks at the disestablishment of COMSUBRON 3 during an official ceremony aboard USS Greeneville (SSN 772) at the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Feb. 2.

Story and photos by MC2 Ronald Gutridge

Commander Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Office

The Pearl Harbor-based submarine unit Commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 3 disestablished as COMSUBRON 1 changed command during an official ceremony aboard USS Greeneville (SSN 772) at the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Feb. 2.

The disestablishment reassigns all COMSUBRON 3 attack submarines to COMSUBRON 1 and COMSUBRON 7. Under the deactivation, USS Jacksonville (SSN 699), USS Key West (SSN 722) and USS North Carolina (SSN 777) are assigned to COMSUBRON 1, and USS Louisville (SSN 724) and USS Olympia (SSN 717) are assigned to COMSUBRON 7.

USS Chicago (SSN 721) will be assigned to COMSUBRON 15 in Apra Harbor, Guam. COMSUBRON 1 will support the unit and act as its host until she conducts a change of homeport to Guam.

Rear Adm. Frank Caldwell, commander of Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and guest speaker at the event, remarked on the history of the squadron.

“The demands of our national security evolve, as do the fiscal demands on the country. But the hallmark of our force is that we have always adapted. We are driven by the strategic imperative that we must be combat ready,” Caldwell said.

“So as Squadron 3 decommissions, one thing that we can absolutely count on is that our people will deal with this change, lead through it and deliver a better, more capable submarine force in the end. Our measure of success on a day-to-day basis is the ability to send submarines on deployment, have them operate for months away from homeport, complete the mission and return safely home.”

Capt. James Childs, the outgoing commodore of COMSUBRON 3, also noted the rich history of the squadron. “Throughout the years, the complexion, the submarines, the assigned missions and the location of Submarine Squadron 3 have changed,” Childs said.

“What has not changed is the dedication that the squadron has had to the crews and submarines that have belonged to and thrive under its care. Decommissioning Submarine Squadron 3 will certainly add to the challenges our submarines, squadrons and supporting commands face.”

Following the disestablishment, a change of command took place as Childs relieved Capt. Stanley Robertson as commodore of COMSUBRON 1.

Rear Adm. Caldwell spoke about Robertson’s exceptional performance. “I have had the privilege of watching Commodore Robertson in action since becoming commander of the Pacific Submarine Force, and I can tell you that his reputation and the reputation of his submarines is one of excellence,” Caldwell said. “Thank you for your leadership, your tenacity and your hard work. You have positioned your team for success.”

During his remarks, Caldwell presented Robertson with the Legion of Merit.

Robertson expressed his gratification and appreciation for his squadron staff as well as the crews of the submarines that fell under his leadership.

“Ultimately, modern submarines take an incredible team. The challenges they are conquering, and the talent and effort they pour into their jobs, has been a gratifying education,” Robertson said. “When we get one of our submarines underway, there is a great satisfaction in this job during those times, and it is coupled with a deep appreciation for my staff and my men on the front lines.”

As Childs stepped down from command of COMSUBRON 3 and assumed command of COMSUBRON 1, he praised Robertson for the squadron’s outstanding reputation on the waterfront and described how honored he is to be selected for this position of trust.

“Submarine Squadron 1, it is an honor, a pleasure and a chance of a lifetime to be able to continue my command here in Pearl Harbor, to serve you, and to serve with you,” Childs said. “I will give you the best I have to offer, and I look forward to great things from all of you as we sail into the challenging waters ahead.”

Submarine Squadron 3 was formed on Nov. 25, 1930 at Coco Solo in the Panama Canal Zone. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, most of the squadron’s submarines moved to the Pacific side of the Canal Zone to protect the canal from potential attacks by enemy surface forces.

By August 1943, Submarine Squadron 3 retained only four submarines; all others had transferred to more forward areas in support of the global war effort. By May 1945, there were no submarines left in the squadron, only the rescue vessel USS Mallard (AM 44) and three destroyers remained.

The United States built a large, modern fleet of dieselelectric submarines during the war and near its end, commissioned a new submarine tender, USS Sperry (AS 12). To support these ships, the Navy reorganized its submarine squadrons, re-establishing Submarine Squadron 3 on Guam on Oct. 1, 1945. Shortly thereafter, in February 1946, Submarine Squadron 3 moved to San Diego until it was deactivated in 1995.

Submarine Squadron 3 was re-activated in June 1997 at Pearl Harbor. In 2003, five submarines from COMSUBRON 3 were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and three of these submarines, USS Columbia (SSN 771), USS Louisville (SSN 724) and USS Key West (SSN 722), conducted Tomahawk strike operations against targets in Iraq.

For 82 years, Submarine Squadron 3 has served with distinction, from the R-1 built in 1917 to the USS North Carolina (SSN 777) of today. Submarine Squadron 3 submarines have ensured our nation’s ability to control the seas throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

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