Burton Assumes Command of USS Scranton
NORFOLK, Va. – Cmdr. Seth Burton relieved Cmdr. Paul A. Whitescarver as commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Scranton (SSN 756) during a change of command ceremony, Jan. 20. The traditional Navy event was held onboard Naval Station Norfolk.
Retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Arnold Lotring, was the featured speaker at the ceremony. Lotring is currently the General Manager, Global Services Training and Education at GE Healthcare, and his last duty station before retiring was as Chief Operating Officer, Naval Education and Training Command.
“I consider myself very blessed to be able to return to Norfolk today and be part of this special event for Cmdr. Whitescarver, Cmdr. Burton and their families,” said Lotring. “This change of command marks the ending of one chapter in the Scranton story while also signaling the beginning of another. Cmdr. Seth Burton brings with him an exceptional record of operational experience and preparation during his career. Most importantly, he has taken the hard operational tours in preparing himself for command of a front line fast-attack submarine such as Scranton. Cmdr. Burton you are an exceptional naval officer and submariner. We welcome you and your family back to the waterfront and into the Scranton family, and wish you nothing but the very best during the great adventures that are ahead.
“Unfortunately today we must also say goodbye to the Cmdr. Whitescarver and his family. A great submarine like the Scranton must be set firmly on a strong foundation beginning with its crew and families. The families of a fast-attack submarine, by the very nature of the ship’s pace and intensity, must be close and supportive of each other. Under the leadership of Cmdr. Whitescarver, the record of success of Scranton has been exceptional. Over a 30- month period, he has guided the crew through major system and equipment modernization periods and well as a myriad of intricate at sea operations.
“The Scranton crew has excelled at every periodic inspection both in engineering and in tactical readiness assessments. What I find most impressive about this period of the ship’s history under Cmdr. Whitescarver, is the fact that despite extended and complex periods of maintenance, he was able to ensure that his crew’s training and readiness proficiency did not degrade, but in fact improved. So, while the complex repairs and upgrades were done with exceptional accuracy and acumen, he ensured that when it was time for the crew to take the ship to sea again, they were ready. Ready to bring the full power and might of this great warship to bear in defense of our nation.”
Capt. Eugene Sievers, Commander, Submarine Squadron Six, then presented Whitescarver his second Meritorious Service Medal citing him for proven leadership and tactical experience delivered mission success, superior personnel retention and the highest state of material readiness during local Fleet operations as well as an extended seven-month deployment.
“Attention, Hoya 756. On Time, On Track, On Target! Sorry, I needed to get fired up. It is a difficult task to give up command, especially the IRON HORSE,” said Whitescarver, a 1991 graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). “It is command at sea that each officer strives for in a career. It is also the one tour where you have the opportunity to use all the great knowledge and wisdom that you have gained from others over the years to make a difference, to instill lasting change and watch young men grow into future leaders.
“It is the leadership aspect of the job that has maintained my ambition over the past 30 years. There is not a better way of finding out your abilities as a leader than commanding a fast attack submarine. It is the most difficult, technically complex and most rewarding job that anyone could have in the Navy. Given the complexity of the job, it was my goal to ensure each and every man aboard knew how important their role on the ship meant to the success of the ship.
“Leadership is making each person understand their significance to the organization. In an environment where you spend a majority of your time at sea, beneath the surface, every member of the crew is vital to the safety of the ship, and to each other. This crew knows their importance, and they know that the leadership team values each and every one of them. I may be a little biased, but Scranton is by far the best ship and crew I have served with.”
Whitescarver then had some encouraging words for his relief.
“In Ecclesiastes it points out ‘There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.’ This is true for Scranton - it is time for a change. Cmdr. Burton, I fully expect great things from your leadership. As I have gotten to know you over the past month, it is obvious that you are the right man to continue Scranton’s excellence. I have no doubt that with these men and your leadership, Scranton will always be On Time, On Track, and On Target. This is the best ship and the best crew anyone could ask for heading into command.”
Burton gladly accepted the challenge of command.
“To my new shipmates, I could not be more excited to be your captain at such a time as this,” said Burton, a 1994 graduate of the University of Alabama at Huntsville with a degree in chemical engineering. “In a time of national struggle to gain our footing financially and trying to find common ground among more than 300-million citizens while treading a delicate path of international policy in a restless and unsure world, I applaud your spirit of service, your dedication to our country and its Constitution, and most importantly, your loyalty to each other!
“I pledge to you that I will turn over every stone, climb any mountain, and go to the ends of the Earth to prepare us for the fight that awaits us. I don’t know what the future holds, but I assure you, we will be ready. We will go, we will be more prepared than our enemy, we will defeat him and we will come home to those we love whom we have left behind. Thank you in advance for your trust and loyalty in the coming years.”
Burton’s previous assignment before taking command of Scranton was Executive Officer of the Tactical Readiness Evaluation Team at Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic (COMSUBLANT).
Whitescarver next duty assignment will be as the Operations Officer at COMSUBLANT.
Before assuming command of Scranton in October 2009, Whitescarver sea assignments have been as a division officer onboard the fast-attack submarine and now decommissioned USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (SSN 708); the Combat Systems Officer onboard the fast-attack submarine USS Norfolk (714); the Engineering Officer onboard USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul; and as Executive Officer onboard the ballistic-submarine USS Alabama (SSBN 731).
His shore commands have been at the Naval Postgraduate School where he earned a Masters Degree in National Security Affairs; the Joint Chiefs of Staff, J8 Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment Directorate, where he served as the Executive Assistant for the Deputy Director for Force Application and Director for Chemical, Radiological, Biological, and Nuclear Defense; and at the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program Office where he served as the Nuclear Enlisted Program and Community Manager
Named after the city of Scranton, Penn., located in the Lackawanna River Valley, Scranton was built by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company and was commissioned January 26, 1991. The 360-foot ship has a crew compliment of 16 officers and 122 enlisted Sailors, displaces 6,900 tons of water, and can travel in excess of 20 knots while submerged.
Fast-attack submarines like Scranton have multi-faceted missions. They use their stealth, persistence, agility and firepower to deploy and support special force operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary’s military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity, and ensure undersea superiority.
120120-N-NK458-044 NORFOLK, Va. (Jan. 20, 2012) – Rear Adm. (Ret.) Arnold Lotring speaks during a change of command ceremony for the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Scranton (SSN 756) at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Lotring served as guest speaker for the ceremony where Cmdr. Seth Burton relieved Cmdr. Paul A. Whitescarver as commanding officer. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Todd A. Schaffer/Released)
120120-N-NK458-073 NORFOLK, Va. (Jan. 20, 2012) – Cmdr. Paul A. Whitescarver reflects on his tenure as commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Scranton (SSN 756) as Cmdr. Seth Burton looks on during his change of command ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Todd A. Schaffer/Released)