USS North Carolina Holds Change of Command

Media Release:

Cmdr. Richard Rhinehart relieved Cmdr. Wes Schlauder as commanding officer of the Virginia-class submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) in a time honored change of command ceremony at the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Thursday, April 14.

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - (April 14, 2011) - Cmdr. Wes Schlauder is piped ashore having been relieved as Commanding Officer of the Virginia-class submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) by Cmdr. Richard Rhinehart in a change of command ceremony held at the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Thursday, April 14.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (AW) Sheldon Rowley / Released)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - (April 14, 2011) - Cmdr. Wes Schlauder is piped ashore having been relieved as Commanding Officer of the Virginia-class submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) by Cmdr. Richard Rhinehart in a change of command ceremony held at the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Thursday, April 14. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (AW) Sheldon Rowley / Released)

Guest speaker, Commander, Submarine Squadron 3, Capt. Daryl Caudle, praised Schlauder and his crew on their recent accomplishments on board North Carolina and on his Naval career.

“Cmdr. Schlauder is a principled-centered leader who embodies ideas of valiantly striving to achieve and overcome in the face of adversity,” said Caudle. “Under his effective leadership and guiding mentorship, the crew of North Carolina persevered and grew together as a cohesive group of submarine professionals.”

Schlauder acknowledged that the majority of the submarine’s success during his time as commanding officer could be attributed to the crew and their hard work efforts.

“Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship. In the case of North Carolina, our advance stealth, sensors and weapons would be useless without my crew whom I’ve had the honor to command,” said Schlauder. “To every man on my crew, I want to say thank you for your hard work and dedication. You all have inspired me on a daily basis.”

Following his remarks, Schlauder was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his exceptional performance as commanding officer from Sept. 2008 to April 2011.

In his closing remarks, Cmdr. Schlauder reflected on his time on North Carolina and at sea.

“Command brings with it many challenges and from those challenges come the opportunity for the triumph of high achievement,” said Schlauder. “When I challenged my crew in Sept. 2008, I wanted them to reach for the highest ideas of our Navy and country. As I stand here today, I am proud to say we have done just that.”

As the Navy’s next-generation attack submarine, the Virginia class provides the U.S. Navy with the capabilities it requires to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. North Carolina has improved stealthiness, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements which enable it to meet the Navy’s multimission requirements.
As Cmdr. Rhinehart assumed command of North Carolina, he addressed the crew about the future.

“I am eagerly accepting the task I have been assigned to,” said Rhinehart. “I look forward to follow in the footsteps of an able and respected officer, to lead a crew of well trained and professional submariners and to ensure that the North Carolina remains an agile front-line warship fully prepared for any mission assigned.”

Schlauder graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.

His sea tours include USS Albuquerque (SSN 706), USS Connecticut (SSN 22), USS Seawolf (SSN 21) and USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) (Blue). His personal awards include the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal and various other unit awards. His next assignment will be at the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.

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