San Juan Changes Commanders
GROTON, Conn. – Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS San Juan (SSN 751), held a change of command ceremony aboard the submarine at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton April 27.
Cmdr. Ollie Lewis was relieved by Cmdr. Jamie Biondi during the time-honored ceremony.
“Commanding San Juan for over three years has been the most rewarding opportunity of my life,” said Lewis. “Our ground-breaking deployed operations; early overhaul completion and prompt return to tactical proficiency have been accomplished with honor and professionalism that are the hallmark of our ship and our submarine force.”
Rear Adm. Paul Bushong, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas served as guest speaker during the ceremony.
"You cannot understate the impact of a commanding officer on all aspects of the ship,” said Bushong. “He is the key. Cmdr. Lewis has done his command tour exactly right."
During the ceremony, a naval message from Vice Adm. John Richardson, commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic was read in which he praised Lewis for his effective leadership.
“Your expertise and ability to successfully transition the crew from deployed operations to a major engineered overhaul was outstanding during the maintenance period, your team flawlessly executed all major events,” Richardson said in a naval message. “Your effective management and leadership created a blueprint for others to follow in future engineered overhauls.”
Lewis was recognized during the ceremony for his ability to inspire his crew to perform at peak operational proficiency, surpassing pre-deployment requirements. Lewis thanked his men and their families for their determination and support.
“The families and men of San Juan have made great sacrifices throughout this time in contribution to the security of our nation today and for the future,” said Lewis.
USS San Juan returned to Groton on Feb. 11 after completing an Engineered Overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard consisting of various maintenance work and several system upgrades.
During Lewis’ command tour his crew of 13 officers and 121 enlisted personnel completed special mission requirements that resulted in a unique intelligence collection exceeding expectations and ultimately led to successfully carrying out multiple national security objectives.
“Today, we are able to celebrate that journey and chart the path for continued success,” said Lewis.
Lewis, a native of Baton Rouge La., will serve next as prospective commanding officer instructor at Naval Submarine School in Groton.
Biondi, who previously served as the Branch Chief of NORTHCOM Special Activities, has considerable experience time spent aboard USS San Juan. Previous to his command tour, he served as San Juan’s executive and engineering officer.
“I am excited and honored to return to San Juan and relieve as the commanding officer,” said Biondi. “Commander Lewis and the crew have done an amazing job completing the modernization and returning to sea one of the most technologically advanced submarines in the fleet. I am looking forward to leading the crew in the employment of her new systems.”
San Juan is the third ship of the U.S. Navy to be named for San Juan, Puerto Rico. The first San Juan (SP 1352) was acquired by the Navy from the San Juan Packing Company of Seattle and used as a minesweeper and patrol boat during World War I. The second San Juan (CL 54) was an Atlanta-class anti-aircraft cruiser that served during World War II. The third San Juan (SSN 751) was the first of the "improved" Los Angeles-class submarines, capable of under-ice operations.
120427-N-ZZ999-055 GROTON, Conn. (April 27, 2012) - Rear Adm. Paul Bushong, Commander, U.S. Navy Forces Marianas, makes his remarks as guest speaker for the USS San Juan (SSN 751) change of command ceremony. Cmdr. Ollie Lewis was relieved by Cmdr. Jamie Biondi during a ceremony held onboard. (U.S. Navy photograph by Lt. j.g. Jeffrey Prunera/Released)
120427-N-ZZ999-105 GROTON, Conn. (April 27, 2012) - Cmdr. Jamie Biondi shakes hands with Cmdr. Ollie Lewis after assuming command of USS San Juan (SSN 751). Lewis was relieved by Biondi during a ceremony held onboard. (U.S. Navy photograph by Lt. j.g. Jeffrey Prunera/Released)