(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photo by MC1 Steven Khor
Submarine Force Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
Cmdr. Albert Alarcon relieved Cmdr. David Youtt as commanding officer of USS Columbus (SSN 762) during a change of command ceremony Aug. 26 at the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Youtt expressed how proud he is that he had the opportunity to be in command of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine and working with some of the best Sailors in the submarine force.
“Thank you for your professionalism, thank you to the Columbus families for your sacrifice and support, and thank you to the crew of the USS Columbus for your hard work and dedication over the past three years,” said Youtt.
In command for more than two years, Youtt maintained his ship and crew to the highest level of combat readiness. During Youtt’s tenure in command of Columbus, more than 115 new submariners earned their warfare qualifications, or “dolphins,” the team executed more than 550 days at sea, and steamed more than 115,000 nautical miles. Youtt deployed to the western Pacific twice and conducted several missions vital to national security.
The ceremony’s guest speaker, Rear Adm. William Merz, commander of Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, praised Youtt for an amazing job in command.
“Dave, you have clearly done a superb job,” said Merz.
Merz said he looks forward to seeing him in his next assignment as submarine operations officer for Task Force 74 at Yokosuka, Japan. “I could not imagine a more perfect leader for this incredibly important position,” Merz said.
During the ceremony, Youtt was awarded a Legion of Merit for his successes in command of Columbus from September 2011 to August 2014.
As Alarcon assumed command of Columbus, he thanked Youtt for turning over a capable ship and a highly loyal crew.
“Columbus has sustained superior performance under Capt. Youtt’s leadership, and I am truly honored to share in our ship’s legacy of excellence.” said Alarcon.
Alarcon addressed the crew on their future under his command.
“Our job is to always be ready to answer our nation’s calling,” said Alarcon.
“Somewhere across the ocean, there is another crew waiting for the opportunity to compromise our freedom and our way of life. But little do they know that the bus will always be ready to respond. Gentlemen, we have work to do. Let’s make our country proud,” he added.
USS Columbus is the 51st Los Angeles-class submarine and the 12th improved version of this class, which includes a vertical launch system for Tomahawk cruise missiles and an improved hull design for under-ice operations. The ship completed a post-shipyard availability in June 1994 in Groton, Conn. after initial construction and shakedown operations.
In September 1994, the ship conducted an inter-fleet transfer to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and joined the U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force.