By By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public affairs
NORFOLK (NNS) -- Cmdr. Burt J. Canfield relieved Cmdr. Daniel B. Caldwell as commanding officer of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS John Warner (SSN 785) during a change of command ceremony held at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Sept. 18.
The event was the ship's first change of command since its commissioning on Aug.1, 2015 in its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk. The ship was the 12th Virginia-class attack submarine to join the Navy's operating fleet, ready to fulfill its motto, "On a Mission to Protect Freedom."
The ship's namesake is John Warner, a five-term U.S. Senator from Virginia who also served as 61st Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974. Warner is also the only Secretary of the Navy who served as both an enlisted man and an officer, in both the Navy and the Marine Corps.
"We are honored to have Mrs. Jeanne Warner, our ship's sponsor, with us here today," said Caldwell, a native of Milford, Ohio, and graduate of the University of Cincinnati. "Jeanne, you have been there beside us the entire way and have infused your spirit into this magnificent submarine. You have blessed us with your grace and charm. The crew of John Warner could not have asked for a better sponsor.
"To the crew of John Warner, you have impressed and inspired me on a daily basis with your hard work and dedication. You have followed in the footsteps of Senator Warner and made a commitment to join the Navy to protect freedom around the world and I know he is proud of each and every one of you. You have been asked to flex. You have asked to be agile. You have asked to be patient. Where many submarine crews have stumbled you have soared. You have met every challenge head on and you have delivered first time success every time including earning the highest score ever for readiness in the history of the Virginia-class submarine program.
"Sometimes it is hard to see what you are accomplishing through the day to day drudgery of building and operating a submarine. Every time a Virginia-class submarine is commissioned, the whole world takes notice and our adversaries spend a little more time thinking about the awesome capabilities of these ships. While Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat built this amazing warship with state of the art weapons systems, it is you - the crew - that breathed life into this ship. Your training and your ability to employ the capabilities of this warship are the difference between victory and defeat when this ship is tasked to engage the enemy. You have brought the most lethal warship in our Navy to life, you have made the country safer and our nation stronger. You have demonstrated resilience and agility that is second to none and most importantly you supported your shipmates and you succeeded with honesty and integrity. I could not have asked for a better crew. You have much to be proud of. Well done men. Well done!"
Capt. Paul Snodgrass, commander, Submarine Squadron Six, was the guest speaker.
"I can feel something special in this change of command today," said Snodgrass. "This is not your normal, run of the mill Navy change of command. Today is the first change of command for the USS John Warner, the ship named for a living legend, a Virginia gentleman, a true United States patriot and statesman. Jeanne, I want to thank you and Senator Warner for all you have done for this crew, our submarine force, our Navy and our nation.
"We are here to celebrate the success of USS John Warner, and success of its first commanding officer, Dan Caldwell, a great leader. Dan is an officer that always thinks about development of his subordinates and finds ways to put his officers, chiefs and Sailors in positions to learn, grow and develop their professional skill. Dan is that leader who is always pushing his people into the limelight when it is time to heap praise and step to the front to accept responsibility if things don't go so well. The times that things did not go well were very few and far between because Dan Caldwell made John Warner and her crew function so well. Dan, it has always been very enjoyable for me and my staff to work with your crew. The crew always has a positive attitude, is proactive, receptive to feedback, and always looking to improve. That is a direct reflection on you and your leadership.
"All of my anxiety about Dan's departure from command of John Warner was removed when I found out who was going to be his replacement - Burt Canfield. I was assured that this ship would be able to carry on in the same excellent performance with him at the helm. Burt, you are ready for this job and I am confident you will do it well.
"While we are primarily celebrating the success of Dan Caldwell, and wishing Burt Canfield a successful future, both of them will be the first to tell you that today is really a celebration of the honor, privilege, and unique opportunity given to very few by our nation and Navy - to lead a submarine crew. This crew is the heartbeat of John Warner, and will be forever linked to the legacy of the great Senator John Warner."
A native of Damascus, Pa., Canfield graduated with honors from New York Maritime College in 1998 with a Bachelors of Engineering in Electrical Engineering and a U.S. Guard Third Mate's License. He earned a Master's Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2005.
"Men of warship John Warner, I could not be more impressed," said Canfield. "The camaraderie, the pride, but most of all, the professional excellence which each one of you exhibits surpasses that of any crew I've had the pleasure of being acquainted with. Clearly, you and Cmdr. Caldwell's hard work have transformed this ship and crew into one of the finest in the fleet. Within a year you have brought this amazing warship to life. We will be deeply into deployment preparations and training, getting ready to deploy the nation's newest fast-attack submarine to the tip of the spear and breathe life into our motto, "On a Mission to Protect Freedom." I am humbled and honored to be part of John Warner as we go forward."
As the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, the submarine can operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments and presents combatant commanders with a broad and unique range of operational capabilities. John Warner is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.
The submarine is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for 33 years without ever refueling.