The U.S. Navy Virginia-class fast-attack submarine Pre-commissioning Unit (PCU) Vermont conducted a change of command Monday, March 30, at the General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) shipyard in Groton, Connecticut.
Cmdr. Chas Phillips relieved Capt. Henry Roenke as the commanding officer of PCU Vermont.
Capt. Andrew Miller, commander, Submarine Squadron 4, praised Roenke for his accomplishments as commanding officer while the submarine progressed through construction to sea trials, in anticipation of its commissioning.
“Capt. Roenke expertly prepared the crew for every testing and certification milestone in the new construction and delivery sequence, ensuring the crew was trained and ready to execute at sea,” Miller said. “To him and the impressive crew, congratulations on a job well done!”
Roenke said he is thankful to the crew for the enthusiasm and determination they brought to overcoming challenges during the construction and training phase.
“I want to thank everyone for making the biggest and most satisfying professional event of my life possible,” he said. “A piece of this crew’s spirit will sail with Vermont until she fades from our memories and future Vermont sailors will look back and draw strength from their accomplishments.”
His next assignment is at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, as the shipyard representative.
Phillips said he is excited to prepare PCU Vermont to become a warship and has been immediately impressed with the crew’s professionalism and strength.
“I am in awe of their comradery, willingness to learn, ability to work together and hunger to serve in the fleet,” he said. “We know that one or two well trained submarines could overwhelm the enemy and end a conflict before it begins. I intend to make sure that Vermont is ready to fight and answer that call.”
Phillips began his naval career at the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit at Cornell University, graduating in 2002. He subsequently earned Master’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics, while also obtaining a Professional Engineer’s License in Mechanical Engineering. He previously served as executive officer of USS Hawaii (SSN 776) in the Western Pacific and at the Naval Reactors Line Locker as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Director for Enlisted Plans, Policy, and Training.
The future USS Vermont, designated SSN 792, is the third U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of the “Green Mountain State”.
The boat is the 19th Virginia-class attack submarine and the first of ten Virginia-class Block IV submarines. The ship’s construction began in May 2014 and she was christened on Oct. 20, 2018. The submarine recently completed her alpha sea trials.
Block IV Virginia-class submarines include design changes to Reduce Total Ownership Cost (RTOC) and increase operational availability by decreasing the planned number of depot availabilities from four to three.
Virginia-class submarines are built to operate in the world’s littoral and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine warfare (ASW); anti-surface ship warfare (ASuW); strike warfare; special operation forces (SOF) support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility and firepower directly enable them to support five of the six maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.
Electric Boat and its partner, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), share construction of the Virginia-class submarines under a teaming agreement. The 18th Virginia-class submarine, USS Delaware (SSN-791), was delivered to the Navy by HII last year.