Final change-of-command ceremony for sub Miami

131115-N-TT535-057:  Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine.  Rear Adm. Kenneth Perry, Commander, Submarine Group 2 (second from left) presides over the Change of Command ceremony where Cmdr. Roger Meyer (left) is relieved Cmdr. Rolf Spelker (second from right) as Commanding Officer, USS Miami (SSN 755).  Miami is currently undergoing inactivation at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  (U.S. Navy photo by Jim Cleveland/Released)

Cmdr. Roger Meyer, left, is relieved by Cmdr. Rolf Spelker, second from right, during a change-of-command ceremony Friday for the attack submarine Miami presided over by Rear Adm. Kenneth Perry (head of Submarine Group 2, second from left) in Kittery, Maine. (Navy photo by Jim Cleveland)

When Cmdr. Roger Meyer led the attack submarine Miami on a successful five-month deployment in 2010, he couldn’t have known he’d be the last commanding officer to take the boat on patrol.

But a May 2012 fire set by a worker at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, effectively ended the Miami’s service life. Despite a 10-hour effort to battle the blaze, led by Meyer, it would’ve cost $450 million to repair the sub — an expenditure that the Navy decided in August wasn’t worth it.

Instead of 10 more years of service, five more deployments and a handful more commanding officers, the Miami held what’s scheduled to be its final change-of-command ceremony Friday in a shipyard auditorium. Cmdr. Rolf Spelker relieved Meyer and will lead what remains of the crew until the ship’s inactivation, set for spring.

“The crew’s resiliency over the last two years is a true testament to their upstanding character,” Spelker, who’ll leave his post as action officer in the force structure, resources and assessment directorate under the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said in a Friday news release. “I will do everything I can to continue the proud legacy of the USS Miami team.”

That team is now a 150-person crew, with 65 of those sailors in the process of transferring, according to the release. More than 70 Miami crew members have served with deploying sub crews since the ship entered the yard, the release said; eight of those are currently on deployment, The Day newspaper reported Friday.

The sub was commissioned in 1990. The shipyard worker found guilty of setting the fire was sentenced in March to more than 17 years in prison.


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  1. So why is there a change of command at all?? What needs to be done before you decom her and get rid of the position of CO…

  2. I don’t understand this. Why relieve someone when it will only be for a year when the sub will be deactivated. And what exactly is being deactivated differ from decomm’d?

  3. Nuclear vessels are deactivated and are not officially sticken from the list of active vessels until they have their nuclear reactors removed. Only then are they officially decommissioned and stricken.

  4. They changed command for a year because officers have fairly strict career timing gates. CDR Meyer was already CO longer than he should’ve been — 37 months vice 24 months — because the Navy didn’t know whether to make his relief someone who screened for commanding officer at sea (if sub would be repaired) or screened commanding officer, submarine support (if sub would be decommissioned).

    The ship needs a CO until it is defueled.

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