Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Amanda Gray, Commander, Submarine Group Nine
The Gold crew of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) welcomed a new commanding officer during a change of command ceremony, June 9.
Cmdr. Martin E. Sprague II, from Clovis, New Mexico, relieved Cmdr. Melvyn N. Naidas, from Agana, Guam, during the ceremony held at the Keyport Undersea Museum.
“The final thank you goes to the officers, chiefs, and Sailors of Louisiana,” said Naidas. “Thank you for accomplishing everything that I set before you. Thank you for achieving excellence no matter the obstacles placed in your way. We had a very demanding schedule over the past several years, and it was clear that you were going to meet the expectations no matter what. I was proud to be your commanding officer and I was even more proud to watch you succeed at the most daunting of tasks. I know that you will continue this trend of excellence in the future, and I look forward to reading about your many successes.”
Naidas assumed command of Louisiana’s Gold crew Aug. 15, 2014. During his leadership, the crew completed four strategic deterrent patrols and two dry-dock refit periods. The crew received the Retention Excellence Award in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Also, 85 officers and enlisted Sailors received their submarine warfare qualifications, or “dolphins”, during his time as commanding officer.
Naidas’ next duty station will be Little Creek, Virginia, where he will serve on the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).
“Cmdr. Sprague, I wish you the best of luck in taking command of this fine warship and crew,” said Naidas. “You are in for quite an experience. Unlock the potential that this team has. Have fun and enjoy everything that comes your way.”
Sprague comes to Louisiana from Washington D.C., where he worked for the Undersea Warfare Division (OPNAV 97).
“Louisiana, your resilience and commitment to each other is evident in the results of your work,” said Sprague. “You have answered the call every time you have been asked and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of this crew.”
Louisiana is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, providing the most survivable leg of the nation’s strategic deterrent forces.