Cmdr. Christopher George, from Homedale, Idaho, relieved Capt. Jeffrey Bierley, from Birmingham, Alabama, and assumed the duties and responsibilities of commanding officer for the Seawolf crew during the ceremony held at the Bangor Chapel.
“The Seawolf crew made my job easy for the last three years,” said Bierley. “Our role as crew members, on the most complex and capable warship that the Navy has ever built, puts us in a unique position to provide our national leadership options when conflict arises. Never forget you have the most important job in the Navy, to be ready to take Seawolf to sea again soon. I am honored to have served on this great ship as your commanding officer.”
Bierley assumed command of the Seawolf crew in February of 2014. During his leadership, the crew completed a six-month deployment, where they completed important national and anti-submarine warfare tasking, theater security cooperation port visits, participated in sea exercises with partner nations, and surfaced from under the ice twice. They conducted initial testing for a prototype research and development system designed to enhance the ocean sensing capability of fast-attack submarines. The crew also received the SUBDEVRON 5 Battle Efficiency “E” Award for both 2014 and 2015.
“Everyone told me throughout my career that being a CO was the best job in the Navy and I can say now that is without a doubt the truth,” said Bierley. “Every single day of the tour, I looked forward to coming to work. Seeing you all advance and mature as professional submariners and the dedication you all provided to the Seawolf, the submarine force, the Navy and our nation is humbling. As long as I may live, I know that my time as commanding officer of Seawolf will be the time I am most proud of and will always be the greatest accomplishment of my life.”
Bierley’s next duty station is the Yokosuka, Japan, where he will serve on the staff for the 7th Fleet Commander.
George comes to Seawolf from Norfolk, Virginia where he served as Force Nuclear Power Officer for Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic.
“USS Seawolf has a deserved reputation as the most capable submarine ever constructed,” said George. “It is a truly humbling and daunting responsibility to command such a ship and follow in Capt. Bierley’s footsteps.”
Seawolf, commissioned July 19, 1997, is the first of the Navy’s three Seawolf-class submarines, all of which are homeported in the Pacific Northwest – Connecticut and Seawolf at Bremerton, Wash., and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
Originally intended as a class of 29 submarines, the end of the Cold War and budget constraints led to a restructuring of the class to three submarines. The Seawolf is significantly quieter than any Los Angeles class submarine, faster, has more torpedoes tubes and can carry more weapons – up to 50 torpedoes or missiles, or 100 mines.