PEARL HARBOR (NNS) — A change of command ceremony for the Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Texas (SSN 775) was held on the submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Feb. 28.
Cmdr. Kenneth Cooke, from Wilmington, North Carolina, relieved Cmdr. Mike Dolbec, from Manchester, New Hampshire, as Texas commanding officer.
During his remarks, Dolbec expressed gratitude for his supportive friends, family, and especially his crew.
“Since arriving home on Monday from deployment, many of you have come up to me and congratulated me on a successful tour,” said Dolbec. “I have had time to reflect on those words, and each time I thought about Texas’ success I thought about men and women that serve on Texas. I saw the things they did and the things that they accomplished. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight that Texas has not been successful because of me, but because of them.”
During the last three years, under the command of Dolbec, Texas embarked on two overseas deployments. On each deployment, critical operations were conducted that were critical to our national security.
“Texas is a mighty warship, nearly 8,000 tons of awesome, but in the end she is just steel and fancy computers,” said Dolbec. “The crew, my shipmates, breathe life into her. They are her heart and soul. They make Texas the mighty warship she is. They are Texas. I look forward to watching Texas’ continued success with Cmdr. Cooke at the helm.”
Dolbec is headed to Commander, Task Force 69 (CTF 69), Naples, Italy.
“I am proud of each of you and what you have accomplished individually, and I am proud of what you have accomplished as a team,” said Dolbec. “I am proud to have served alongside each of you. I am proud to be a Texan.”
The ceremony’s guest speaker, retired Capt. Gene Doyle, talked about the many accomplishments of Dolbec during his time as commanding officer.
“I used to have a weapons officer work for me that wouldn’t go home each day until he ‘put his own stitch in the flag of freedom for that day.’ Mike, suffice it to say that over the last three years, you and the Texas team put several hundred stitches of your own into the flag of freedom and maybe a few more into the Texas State flag,” said Doyle.
Doyle also gave a warm welcome to Cooke and his family as they prepare for this next step in Cooke’s career.
“For Ken, it is the start of an adventure that he has been working towards his entire adult life,” said Doyle. “Ken began his pursuit when he enlisted in 1993. Since his commissioning in 2001, he’s hunted professional excellence in every job he’s had in the hope that one day, he would be on the stage wearing the star of command. Ken, it probably has yet to fully sink in that yes, Texas will soon be yours.”
As Cooke assumed command of Texas, he thanked not only his family and mentors, but also the Texas crew as a whole for the strong team they built and the accomplishments they have achieved.
“Cmdr. Dolbec, thank you for an accommodating and thoroughly enjoyable turnover,” said Cooke. “You’ve shaped Texas into an award-winning, high-performing combat team with a top notch reputation. You are rightly proud of what you have accomplished over the last few years and what these milestones represent for you. Nonetheless, there’s much left for us to achieve. I look forward to taking on our future challenges together.”
Cooke comes to Texas from Washington, D.C., where he served as head of Unmanned Systems and Future Capabilities on the staff of Director, Undersea Warfare Division (N97).
Commissioned in Sept. 9, 2006, Texas is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. Texas is a flexible multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force; anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence; surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.