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Submarine USS Montpelier Undergoes Change of Command

USS Montpelier (Official U.S. Navy file photo)
USS Montpelier (Official U.S. Navy file photo)

Cmdr. Stephen Mongold took command of the USS Montpelier in 2013, a few months after the submarine had collided with a guided missle cruiser off the coast of Florida, leading to the dismissal of his predecessor.

A Navy investigation found the principal cause of the collision with the USS San Jacinto was human error: poor teamwork by the Montpelier watch team, and the commanding officer's failure to follow periscope-depth operating procedures.

Mongold was tapped for the job with little notice, but on his final day commanding the Los Angeles-class attack submarine Monday, he was praised for quickly turning the Montpelier around.

"During Steve's tour, the USS Montpelier and crew improved significantly," said Capt. Paul Snodgrass, commodore of Submarine Squadron Six.

"Once a ship that was literally being put back together, to now a high-performing crew that recently completed a successful deployment to U.S. Central Command. There the ship covertly collected intelligence that was deemed extremely important to our highest national security decision-makers."

Mongold was relieved of command during a pierside ceremony at Norfolk Naval Station. He's moving on to a job with a Navy nuclear plant propulsion examination board.

Mongold recalled the first day he met with his crew.

"I learned that this crew was special," he said. "This crew had survived some extraordinary circumstances and, despite the challenges the previous months had held, they were still smiling, they still laughed, they maintained a positive outlook, they were curious and they were welcoming."

"What struck me most," he added, "is that this team was seemingly invincible, and they were indeed mighty, and I knew that there was nothing we could not achieve, so we went to work."

The Montpelier's new commanding officer is Cmdr. William B. Swanbeck. He most recently was executive assistant to the director of maritime headquarters at U.S. Fleet Forces Command. His operational assignments include working aboard the submarines USS Asheville and USS Maryland, and as the executive officer of the submarine USS Dallas.

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