USS California holds change of command

The nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) steams up the Thames River while returning to Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., Sept. 21, 2018.

KITTERY, Maine - The nuclear-powered, Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) held a change of command ceremony in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Auditorium, March 13.

Cmdr. David Payne transferred command of California to Cmdr. James Henry in a ceremony attended by Capt. David Youtt, commander, Submarine Squadron 12.

Youtt praised Payne’s leadership as one that delivered on important goals in the era of Great Competition.

“We need leaders like Dave Payne who are willing to challenge the system to get warfighting results,” Youtt said. “He is a demanding and committed leader who sets standards and goals that are difficult, but achievable.”

Payne, a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, thanked his Sailors for their tireless efforts to perform their undersea warfare missions with dedication and professionalism. His next assignment will be at the Joint Staff in Washington D.C.

“Crew of the California, I have held you to the highest of professional standards over the past three years,” Payne said. “I am immensely proud of you, it was an honor to serve as your Captain and I can't wait to see you again in the Fleet.”

Henry is originally from Pensacola, Florida, and his father was a Master Chief who retired in 1994. Upon taking command, he took an opportunity to speak directly to his new crew and recognize them for their service.

“Work on developing yourself, helping your shipmate, and improving our team daily,” Henry said. “I appreciate the efforts you make on a daily basis and the sacrifice your families make in support of our nation.”

The eighth Virginia-class submarine commissioned, and the seventh U.S. Navy ship named for the Golden State, California was built by Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News Shipbuilding and commissioned on Oct. 29, 2011, at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

California enables Navy maritime strategy core capabilities, such as sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence. The submarine is designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions.

Connecticut Media Group