By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds, Commander, Submarine Group 7 Deputy Public Affairs Officer
FLEET ACTIVITIES YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Commander, Submarine Group Seven (COMSUBGRU 7) held a change of command ceremony at the Benny Decker Theater at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, March 23.
Rear Adm. William R. Merz relieved Rear Adm. Stuart B. Munsch as the forty-fourth commander, Submarine Group 7, Task Force 54, and Task Force 74.
Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas Jr., commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, presided over the ceremony.
"The Forward Deployed Naval Forces reason for being is; one, to bring credible combat power anywhere in theater when asked," said Thomas. "and Stuart Munsch has ensured we have done just that."
Munsch assumed command of COMSUBGRU 7 in June 2013 and was responsible for deployed submarines and undersea operations in both the U.S. Central and Pacific commands. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He also earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University.
"It has been my honor to lead such a dynamic and wide-reaching organization," said Munsch. "I'm also honored to have had the opportunity to serve with such a dedicated team of the best professionals I've ever served with. It has truly been the highlight of my career."
Munsch remarked that one of the highlights of being at COMSUBGRU 7 was having operational command of USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) during its final deployment, a submarine that Munsch had previously commanded.
Merz, previously the commander of Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, earned a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in Ocean Engineering and master's degrees from the Catholic University of America and the Naval War College. He has also completed nine submarine deployments with many to the Indo-Asia-Pacific and a tour in Guam. Merz has served with submarine crews who have collectively earned six unit awards, five Battle "E"s, and the Atlantic Fleet's Battenberg Cup
"I would like to thank all of the Sailors at CSG-7 for their warm welcome and hospitality," said Merz. "I embrace the opportunity to lead such a group of professionals."
COMSUBGRU 7 coordinates and controls submarine activities over a vast expanse, ranging from the Western Pacific to the Red Sea.