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U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC)

Adm. Daryl Caudle


Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command


Wow - Well, good evening! Thanks RDML Muckian for that kind introduction.

Distinguished guests, industry partners, spouses, family, friends, and most importantly - the men and women of the finest Submarine Force the world has ever known - happy 122nd birthday!

I just scorched across the country with my team from San Diego and SUBFOTS – so I can say without a doubt, I’m geared up and ready to go! This is definitely not my first celebration at a SUB-BALL, so when I say this venue is off the charts, I mean it.

Unlike Aviators, who go to Vegas so they are guaranteed enough mirrors and shiny objects to look at themselves in, or our surface brethren in those sporty black leather jackets who haven’t quite figured out yet what “having a good time” means – we throw one hell of a party… Bottom Line: There’s no party like a SUB-BALL party.

To be honest, when my team asked me if I really wanted to take the red-eye back here for this, I just looked at them and said, “Is the atomic weight of Cobalt 58.9?” Hell yes we’re going!

You won’t have a better time, at a better place, or with better people than you will here with the Groton Submarine Community!

That is why Donna and I are so incredibly excited to share the evening with each and every one of you here today – and even more so, to celebrate and honor those who could not be with us – those family members, friends, and shipmates who are out there right now, silently prowling the deep, stalking our adversaries – proving why we are the most lethal, feared, and respected force in the world.

And so, thank you CAPT Sager for inviting us here tonight – thank you to all those who made this birthday ball come to fruition, including: Chief Shenton, Senior Chief Meighen, Chief Toledo, and Chief Lee – and last, but certainly not least, a special thank you to all of the spouses, family members, and loved ones here tonight for your steadfast support in all we do.  I recognize that you serve every bit as much, if not more, than our Sailors. 

On behalf of all of us in uniform, thank you. We couldn’t do it without you. Everyone, please join me in giving all of our loved ones a big round of applause…
**************   Strategic Deterrence   **************
Speaking of our shipmates and families, right now there are 15 submarines deployed around the world, experiencing firsthand why the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Combatant Commanders, and Navy leadership rely on the Submarine Force as the “first to the fight and last to leave killers of the deep.” You are the strategic competitors.

While the nation is just beginning come to terms with the true nature of this competition – with the events that are transpiring in Europe between Russia and Ukraine, the ‘cat and mouse’ games in the South China Sea and the Pacific, and the chess matches being played in the cyber and space domains – it truly is a high alert, and high stakes time in our history.

But that’s nothing new to us, that type of competition runs deep within our veins. Strategic Competition is what we live for, what we are bred to do – no one in the world can match the toughness, grit, tenacity, and fighting spirit of our Navy’s Submarine Force – hands down, no question.

Since World War TWO, our Submarine Force has been forward deployed worldwide, competing on a daily basis with our adversaries, maintaining America’s security and prosperity – and our leaders in Washington, D.C. know that – which is precisely why only two words come out of the Pentagon when talking about the future of the Navy – “Virginia” and “Columbia.”

And although you may only hear calls for the nearest carrier strike group when crisis arises – whether it be in the news, on social media, or in the public view – you can damn well be sure that our submarines are already there. And when TRUE crisis occurs, they are actually asking, “Is a submarine in range?”
I know I am preaching to the choir a bit – you already know all of this because you are out there – day in and day out, living it – and in our profession, actions speak louder than words.
Every one of you in this room have played an active role in achieving excellence across the Fleet in operational readiness, mission accomplishment, tactical development, and high-end training.
In Operations:
The Submarine Force has flawlessly undertaken the monumental effort to rapidly respond, and meet head-on, the challenges currently taking place in Europe and its surrounding waters – to include strike group training, reconnaissance, and maritime homeland defense.

From Squadron Twelve, CDR Doug Sattler and his crew aboard SAN JUAN recently completed an extended seven-month deployment, and then promptly surged for emergent operations at-sea, crushing their theater undersea warfare and out-of-area-deployer mission assignments.

And from Squadron Four, CDR Garth Storz and the crew of COLORADO just returned – ‘bringing home the bacon’ – after an extremely successful, high-interest, collection mission supporting homeland defense - (whisper) - you all know what I’m talking about. No other force in the world has their adversaries on their tactical screens like the Submarine Force – you are the ultimate “troops in contact.”

Absolute rockstar status - a view shared by the whole of government.

On the Maintenance Front:
We have been working to accelerate our production curve by enhancing our readiness and improving long term depot-level maintenance. These actions have streamlined operations and placed leadership and Sailors with specific skill sets in position to become more effective combat warriors.

From the seawall – CDR James Henry and his crew aboard CALIFORNIA recently returned to Groton after setting the gold standard for Virginia Class extended dry-dock availabilities, to include the first waterborne Dual Media Discharge event in over 20 years.

And USS NORTH DAKOTA, commanded by CDR Rob Edmundson, recently deployed with ZERO CASREPs - ZERO SUBS Messages - and ZERO Z0ZZ messages. This level of superb material condition is a testament to the tenacity of the NORTH DAKOTA crew and maintenance teams support in repairing and sustaining this ship for battle.

And in the Tactical Development world:

U-W-D-C has directly supported Fleet Commanders worldwide by training and assessing seven Carrier Strike Groups and seven destroyer squadrons, spanning over 53 cruisers and destroyers, ensuring they are trained and prepared on-time to conduct Undersea Warfare operations while deployed.

Under the leadership of Mr. Mike Bratton, LT Chris Patterson, and Senior Chief Steven Stahl, the Force has also taken large strides in expanding the role of Undersea Aggressor Squadrons, aligning them with all fleet concentration area schoolhouses - directly resulting in high-end, dynamic training against realistic adversaries, and forging strong relationships between the Submarine Force and the intelligence community to provide enhanced threat analysis, next-generation tactical development, and improved combat readiness for the Fleet.

And just up North, CDR Nate Reed spearheaded the new Submarine Learning Facility at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – this facility is laser focused on providing trainers to commands undergoing extended maintenance availabilities so their crews can retain their tactical edge.

All of these actions, and countless others throughout the Force, are testament to each and every person’s individual efforts, from the deckplate to the flag bridge – and why the Submarine Force continues to be the Navy’s premier fighting force.
**************   Proud Legacy   **************
Every day you benefit from and uphold a proud legacy.This celebration is about much more than our own personal achievements.

Tonight we also celebrate our history, and remember those who went before us – whose heroism, often through sheer acts of bold and fearless courage against indescribable danger, forged our Force into what it is today.That grit, toughness, and tenacity that I spoke about earlier – which are deeply rooted in every one of us – qualities that can’t be stolen or replicated by our adversaries.

Although our history reaches back 122 years, it wasn’t until the Second World War that we came to fully understand and appreciate the awesome capability and power that emanates from those who prowl the deep.

Many of those lessons came with a price – a price learned and paid for in blood.In World War Two alone, our country lost over three thousand, five-hundred submariners – the highest loss rate of any branch or any Service in the war.

Through those countless daring actions – of which many were unwritten, unaccounted for, or heavily redacted – our Submarine Force emerged as the most formidable, lethal, and feared to ever sail the oceans.

Now, I could regale you with tales of well-known legends like ‘Mush Morton’ and ‘Red Ramage,’ or boats like WAHOO, GRAYBACK, TANG, and PARCHE – all names amongst the titans of submarine warfare – but, this evening, I want to focus on a story that fits more in-line with today. A boat and crew that I think accentuates the type of patience, stamina, and resilience our leadership needs in facing similar threats and opportunities.

That boat is ARCHERFISH (SS-311) – and much like other notorious World War TWO boats, it was one of 120 Balao Class submarines laid down and pumped out at a blistering pace during the truly eye-watering military industrial war effort of our country – taking just under nine months from laying the ‘keel’ to commissioning – don’t worry, we are working hard with NAVSEA to get some of that shipyard magic back into our production today.

In just under two months after commissioning, she departed New London and reported for her first war patrol in the East China Sea.On January 22nd, 1944, one year to the day after the start of her construction, she sank her first ship – a 9,000 ton passenger-freighter – hit by the only torpedo ever fired during a night radar attack on the surface.

Fresh off an in-theater Change of Command, all was looking great for Commander Joseph Enright – a new boat, a highly motivated crew with killer instincts, just off their first wartime kill and refit.It was here that things went sideways – over the next three war patrols throughout the Pacific, she saw little to no action, seemingly dogged by bad luck, bad weather, no targets, and summarily being assigned to lifeguard duty supporting the B-52 air raids across Tokyo.

Now, the crew understood the immense responsibility it was to aide in recovering pilots who took those one way trips, knowing that they would have to ditch their aircraft in the ocean and pray for a recovery by allied forces – that didn’t bother them – but being tied up patrol after patrol alongside other ‘wolfpack’ brethren who were proudly displaying their kills, while they themselves came home empty handed, that started to wear on them at bit.

It wasn’t long though until that practiced readiness, patience, and vigilance paid off – shortly before midnight on November 28th, 1944, about one hundred miles south of Tokyo Bay, ARCHERFISH flashed an urgent message to Submarine Headquarters, “AM PURSING LARGE AIRCRAFT CARRIER AND FOUR ESCORTS.”

Unbeknownst to them, they had come upon the world’s largest aircraft carrier, SHINANO – and the crew didn’t believe it at first either, the officer of the deck thought their newly repaired radar was installed thirty degrees off bearing and was highlighting a tiny island instead of a ship.That was until a spry, and likely irritated, young radar operator reported back, “Sir, Your Island is at 028 degrees and moving at 20 knots.”

From that point the chase was on – cranking up all four big diesels to 18 knots – they plotted a course to intercept.For the next six hours, at flank speed, they chased SHINANO and her escorts.ARCHERFISH strained to maneuver ahead and keep up the pace – the only thing keeping her in the fight was the carrier’s zig-zag maneuvers – and although the crew pushed her faster and harder than she was designed to do, SHINANO was slowly pulling way – the chase seemed lost.That is until the carrier made a series of four radical course changes – which as we know, is all it takes to give us the edge.

With these course changes – along with some of what aviators would say, “doing some of that officer of the deck stuff”– ARCHERFISH found herself on a 70 degree starboard track at 1,400 yards – broadside to a target over 800 feet long.
Now I can see the look in all you shooters out there – constructing the kill chain, running the numbers – if scope return doesn’t make your chest pound and mouth water I don’t know what will – and I can say for certain, that is exactly how the crew of ARCHERFISH felt.

CDR Enright gave the order to fire a six-torpedo salvo from the bow tubes – MK-14 torpedoes, set at 10 feet, spread bow to stern.

Four of those six torpedoes found their mark and blasted holes large enough to defeat the carrier’s defense systems. And as the destroyers reeled from the pandemonium, CDR Enright ordered the crew deep, evading enemy depth charges.

Ever since they torpedoed that “phantom carrier”, ARCHERFISH has been credited for the largest ship ever sunk by a submarine – and quite possibly, breaking the will of the Japanese Imperial Navy.

So, why do I tell you this story? It’s easy. We live and breathe this life – we are calculated, patient, and relentless. And much like our forebears did in wars past, we face the same threats today – and the stakes are just as high.

We must always strive to embody the same toughness, grit and tenacity that they did and prepare ourselves through implementing innovative solutions to complex problem sets, risk analysis, and targeted attacks for effect – all focused on mission accomplishment, overmatch, and unbridled lethality.
**************   Closing   **************
I can’t say it enough - as it was then, it is now – our Submarine Force remains the most lethal, capable, and feared combat force in the world – and for good reason. What we bring to bear cannot be replicated by anyone, anywhere.

As the Fleet Forces Commander, I am truly inspired every day by what I see happening throughout the Force. I know for a fact, and it is indisputable, that the future of submarine warfare is on the right course – and that is because of what you and your families do every day.

Donna and I are proud of each and every one of you – we can’t thank you enough for inviting us to share in this wonderful occasion – and we sincerely hope that you all have an amazing time tonight.

Thank you again – and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  |  |  Navy FOIA  |  DoD Accessibility/Section 508  |  No Fear Act  |  Open Government  |  Plain Writing Act  |  Veterans Crisis Line  |  VA Vet Center  |  FVAP  |   DoD Safe Helpline  |  Navy SAPR  |  NCIS Tips  |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Map  |  Contact US
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