KINGS BAY, Ga. – Submarine Squadron Twenty held a change of command ceremony onboard Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, Sep. 16.
Capt. Eric Cole relieved Capt. John Cage as the squadron’s commodore, in a ceremony held at the base chapel.
Rear Adm. John Spencer, previous commander of Submarine Group Ten, was the guest speaker for the ceremony.
Spencer highlighted the high standards of the squadron’s staff as they supported the six Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines that comprise Squadron Twenty.
“Last year, we as a submarine force decided to take a renewed look at waterfront maintenance practices, to include making every effort to get our ship underway exactly on time,” said Spencer. “For the non-submariners that may not seem to be a big feat, but given the complexity of a submarine, the tremendously high standards we demand of every piece of equipment nearly perfect predictability in schedules is rarely obtained. But John obtained it in short order. Restoring a level of predictability in our submarines schedules that we had not achieved in nearly a decade,” said Spencer.
Cage, who was born in Idaho Falls, Indiana and raised in Jefferson City, Missouri, received his commission through the Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics. He earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Missouri.
Cage addressed Squadron Twenty’s submarine commanding officers and thanked them for their hard work and dedication.
“We ask a lot of you in your job,” said Cage, who took command in April 2021. “We send you to sea on the oldest submarines in the Navy to execute the most important duty in our nation’s defense. It is a no-fail mission, and you execute it flawlessly.”
Cage acknowledged the staff and their work to uphold the mission of Squadron Twenty.
“Your efforts have ensured our boats were able to keep the main thing, the main thing – strategic deterrence of our adversaries,” said Cage. “Those late night calls ensured our SSBN force remained a credible defense around the clock, every day of the year. The importance of this mission remaining credible to our adversaries cannot be overstated.”
During the ceremony, Spencer awarded Cage with the Legion of Merit Award for his service as commodore.
“John, let me be the spokesman for the U.S. Navy and our nation when I say thank you for keeping us safe,” said Spencer. “I’ve been honored to serve with you and hundreds of sailors and officers have benefited from your leadership and mentorship. You should be very proud of all that you have done.”
Under his tenure, Squadron Twenty was recognized as the top performing and largest submarine squadron in the Atlantic Fleet. They supported 33 ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) strategic deterrent patrols, two extended refit periods, and three extensive modernization refits amidst a world-wide pandemic. Squadron Twenty submarines completed multiple unprecedented overseas operations to include the first transit to the Mediterranean Sea and a port visit to Gibraltar in more than 20 years.
Cole, the incoming commodore, is a native of Carrollton, Georgia. He received his commissioning from the U.S. Naval Academy where he earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in electrical engineering. He earned a master’s degree in engineering management from Old Dominion University.
“To our SSBN commanding officers, both here and those at sea protecting each and every one of us today, you are and lead the men and women in the arena. I want you to know that everyone in this room today, everything Team Kings Bay does, is for you, your crews, and the spouses and families who support you as you carry out our nation’s highest priority mission of strategic deterrence,” said Cole who previously served as the Director of Strategic Forces at Commander, Submarine Forces, Atlantic.
Cage’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (two awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), and Navy Achievement Medal (four awards). For his next assignment, he will report to Submarine Group Ten staff.
“There is a long legacy of excellence at Squadron Twenty and your leadership of this extraordinary staff has fostered a command that not only knows how to succeed as a staff, but even better they know how to foster excellence in submarine commands on the Kings Bay waterfront,” said Cole.
Submarine Squadron Twenty is responsible for the maintenance and operations of five Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines USS Alaska (SSBN 732), USS Tennessee (SSBN 734), USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) and USS Maryland (SSBN 738) USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740).
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is home to all east coast Ohio-class submarines.
written by: Chief Petty Officer Ashley Berumen, Commander, Submarine Squadron 20 Public Affairs