The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Helena (SSN 725) conducted a change of command at Naval Station Norfolk, Feb. 26.
Cmdr. Dave Nichols relieved Cmdr. Andy Cain as commanding officer of Helena.
Capt. Jeffrey Juergens, commodore, Submarine Squadron 6, spoke on Cain’s time as the boat’s commanding officer during a unique period as Helena went through overhaul.
“Andy’s leadership was invaluable in keeping his crew focused on submarine operations despite a complex and challenging shipyard availability,” Juergens said. “During an ever-changing schedule, he kept his crew ready to participate in the high-end fight while maintaining the highest levels of morale.”
Cain reminded Helena’s crew of their efforts during the boat’s overhaul.
"To the Helena crew, the proud and fearless guardians, I cannot express enough how proud I am of your endurance and your spirit,” Cain said. “You listened when I told you to always be proud of your Helena ballcap, to never become victims of your circumstances, and to never become a shipyard boat, but to remain a warship conducting overhaul. Everything we have done these last three years has been important for what is coming tomorrow.”
While Helena has been in overhaul, the boat’s crew has continued to work diligently to ensure a safe and rapid return to sea where they will have new challenges to overcome.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have been called Helena as I’ve walked across the brow, but know that every single one of you are Helena when you cross the brow as well,” Cain continued. “Never forget that, no matter how tough the challenges are that lie ahead.”
Cain’s next assignment is at the Department of Energy as the military assistant to the National Nuclear Security Agency administrator.
While assuming command, Nichols said he is honored to be the crew’s new commanding officer.
“I am extremely honored and humbled to take command of USS Helena,” Nichols said. “Over the last month, I have been impressed with the incredibly dedicated crew, and I couldn’t be more proud to join the Helena team.”
Fast-attack submarines are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence. They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Fast-attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.
Helena, whose motto is "Proud and Fearless," is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of Montana’s capital city. Built by General Dynamics Electric Boat Division, Helena was commissioned July 11, 1987, as the 38th nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class submarine.
The Los Angeles-class submarine is 360 feet long and 33 feet wide, and weighs about 6,900 tons when submerged. Underwater, it can reach speeds in excess of 25 knots.