By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — The Virginia-class, fast attack submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) held a change of command ceremony at the historic submarine piers of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, May 31.
Cmdr. Matthew Lewis, commanding officer of North Carolina, was relieved by Cmdr. Michael Fisher, after more than 30 months in command of the vessel.
Capt. Richard E. Seif, chief of staff and deputy commander of Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, was the guest speaker for the ceremony and shared stories of his time working with Lewis.
“I remember the first time I visited the North Carolina across the water in drydock,” said Seif. “It was clear that you and your crew had a lot on your plate, but it was also clear that you were the right man for the job.”
Seif evoked a quote from famous North Carolinian, Michael Jordan, to describe the performance of the crew and captain.
“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen, and under your leadership Matt, the crew of North Carolina made it happen,” said Seif. “Not only did you get North Carolina back out to sea early but you also delivered a front-line submarine crew, ready for operational tasking from day one.”
Seif also welcomed Fisher to the waterfront and expressed confidence in his ability to perform.
“I know first-hand that you are the right man for the job to lead this motivated team through any challenge that may come their way.”
During the ceremony, Capt. Wes Bringham, commander, Submarine Squadron 1 presented Lewis with a Meritorious Service Medal for exceptional conduct while serving as commanding officer of the vessel from January 2017 to May 2019.
Lewis thanked all in attendance and lauded the North Carolina crew’s ability to handle adversity.
“Our crew understood the task and challenge that lied in front of us,” said Lewis. “If successful, we would restore an already assumed to be lost deployment from the lifetime of the ship. Looking back at the past two years, I am astonished and honored to have worked with our Sailors to bring North Carolina back to the fleet.”
Fisher, addressing his new crew for the first time after assuming command, commended them on their recent accomplishments.
“To the crew of North Carolina, your camaraderie, positive attitude, and exceptional work ethic are contagious,” said Fisher. “I am overjoyed to have this opportunity with you, and I have no doubt that as a team we will accomplish tremendous things together as patriots and ready warfighters on one of the most advanced warships in the world.”
“We will live as a team, train as a team, fight as a team, and we will succeed as a team.”
Fisher previously served as executive officer aboard USS Boise (SSN 764), and most recently as Submarine Squadron 1 deputy commander for readiness.
Commissioned May 2008, North Carolina is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to carry the name, North Carolina. The Virginia-class boat joined the fleet in December 2006.
The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.