Commander, Submarine Group Two

120309-N-PN306-007 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Mar. 9, 2012) - Lt. j.g. Joseph
Innerst, assigned to USS Missouri (SSN 780), stands the officer of the deck
watch atop the sail of Missouri while underway. Missouri is conducting
routine operations in the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photography by Lt.
Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg/Released)

 Eight DVs Embarked aboard USS Missouri, Gaining Valuable Insight of the Virginia-class Submarine

USS MISSOURI, At Sea -- Eight distinguished visitors participated in a four-day embark aboard Virginia-class submarine USS Missouri (SSN 780), as it operated in the Atlantic Ocean, March 9, 2012.

The Distinguished Visitors (DVs) who participated in the embark opportunity gained an appreciation and awareness of the capabilities of the Missouri as it transited from the Navy's Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center in the Bahamas to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Ga.

One of the eight DVs observing the capabilities of the Virginia-class submarine firsthand was Deputy Director Warfare Integration (N9I) Mike Novak.  "As the first Senior Executive Service member to hold the new OPNAV N9I position, it was of great value to me to come to sea on the USS Missouri to see firsthand all the capabilities that are resident in this awesome warship," said Novak.

Visitors witnessed the enhanced capabilities of the Virginia-class platform as the submarine transited through the oceans' depths.  Additionally, DVs gained an appreciation for the submarine's enhanced sensor and ship's control capabilities, as well as a better understanding of what the platform provides to the nation's defense. Attack submarines provide offensive and defense capabilities to include: insertion of Special Forces, as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, Commander, Submarine Group 2 hosted the distinguished visitors and discussed what USS Missouri's latest certification means not only to the submarine force, but to the nation's defense.

"After USS Missouri's commissioning and her impressive completion of its Post-Shake Down Availability the submarine is at a major transition point in the ship's life and is ready to go into harm's way in the defense of our nation," said Breckenridge. "It's an exciting time to be in the submarine force as USS Missouri joins the active fleet to assume her rightful position in defense of our nation."

Two academic leaders from Yale University also participated in the embark and reflected on the engineering marvels the agile platform provides and the takeaways they can bring back to the university for the benefit of their future scholars and new NROTC class.

"The two biggest impressions I will share with my students and colleagues are that the Virginia-class submarine is an incredibly impressive engineering platform for the submarine force, and that the skill, dedication and commitment of the officers and crew are inspiring," said Paul Van Tassel, Professor of Engineering, Yale University.

Navy Capt. Glenn Kuffel, assigned to the Force Development office in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, discussed his personal takeaways from his embark experience.

"These boats have a great utility across a variety of missions in defense of our nation and our national security interests," said Kuffel.

Army Maj. Glen Clubb, an advisor for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans in OSD Policy participated in the four-day embark and explained how actual experiences life aboard a submarine provides a new perspective.

"Books will not do it, one must have an experience like this to fully appreciate the capabilities provided by the submarine force," said Clubb.

On the final night of embarking aboard USS Missouri, the visitors witnessed a rite of passage when three officers and two enlisted Sailors received their dolphins granting them the right and honor to be called "submariners."

Lt. j.g. Joseph Innerst, one of the five submariners to receive their dolphins reflected on this significant career achievement.

"It's a major milestone and first impressions mean a lot in the submarine force," said Innerst. "When your submarine qualified you demonstrate the technical knowledge in all warfare capabilities."

Breckenridge praised the crew for the accomplishments and provided his congratulations to the newest dolphin wearing members of the Missouri crew.
"To the fighting men of USS Missouri, I'm very proud of you and wish you the best in all your endeavors," said Breckenridge.

Prior to the visitors' embark, USS Missouri successfully completed their operational certification and was deemed ready for tasking, which prepares the submarine and its crew for deployment. Cmdr. Tim Rexrode, USS Missouri's commanding officer reflected on the submarine's certification and reaching this pivotal milestone.

"The certification is the final testing of the ship in order to enter the Navy's deployment preparations," said Rexrode, who added that Missouri is the first Virginia-class submarine to complete its Post Shake-Down Availability from General Dynamics Electric Boat six weeks early which directly supports the Navy's submarine force.

"When we partnered earlier on during our availability it delivered USS Missouri six weeks early and enabled us to support fleet exercises, which in turn provided the opportunity for other submarines to support major naval fleet exercises," said Rexrode.