NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Cmdr. Thomas A. Winter relieved Capt. Mark B. Benjamin as commanding officer of the USS Montpelier (SSN 765) on Thursday during a change of command ceremony held onboard the submarine at Naval Station Norfolk.
"The submarine force is indeed fortunate to have another great leadership team to assume the responsibilities of command of Montpelier," said Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, Commander, Submarine Forces/Submarine Force Atlantic/Allied Submarine Command, during the ceremony. "Cmdr. Tom Winter has proven himself a fine leader and his extensive experience makes him especially well-suited to continue the outstanding performance of Montpelier and to build upon the legacy of excellence that Mark Benjamin leaves behind."
Prior to assuming command of the Montpelier, Winter was at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA 08) where he served as the Special Assistant to the Director, Nuclear Propulsion, for Officer Personnel and Policy Matters.
A native of Shippensburg, Pa., Winter graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering.
"To the men of Montpelier, your nation expects a lot from you. I expect a lot from you, and I expect your best," said Winter. "Our nation deserves nothing less. I promise you that for as long as I have the honor, privilege, and responsibility of being your commanding officer, I will give you my best. Together, we will continue to provide this great nation of ours with the awesome capabilities of a warship worthy of the proud name Montpelier.
During the ceremony, Donnelly presented Benjamin with the Legion of Merit Medal (LOM) for his exceptionally meritorious conduct as commanding officer in USS Montpelier, and specifically for his outstanding performance while conducting three challenging missions vital to national security during a deployment to the Central Command Area of responsibility. Montpelier's tactical successes during the deployment directly resulted in noteworthy changes to operational strategies and strategic policies in the Central Command Region. The LOM is sixth in the order of precedence of U.S. military decorations.
Benjamin, a native of West Palm Beach, Fla., assumed command of Montpelier in July 2008. His next assignment will be as Deputy Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen in Guam.
The Montpelier is the third ship in the U.S. Navy to be named for the city of Montpelier, Vt. Built by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company and General Dynamics Electric Boat Division, the "Mighty Monty" was commissioned on March 13, 1993.
The Montpelier was the first submarine to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Los Angeles-class attack submarine has a crew complement of 13 officers and 121 enlisted sailors. It is 360-feet long and can travel in excess of 20 knots.
According to the Navy, fast-attack submarines like the Montpelier have multi-faceted missions. They use their stealth, persistence, agility and firepower to deploy and support special force operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary's military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity, and ensure undersea superiority.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
The art of making jewelry is helping some Norfolk students learn independence and job skills.
The suicide of a 16-year-old Gloucester girl has led a community to speak up about bullying.