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Groton — Capt. John Fancher turned over command of the Virginia-class submarine USS Minnesota (SSN 783) to Cmdr. Brian Tanaka, a Minnesota native, in a ceremony Friday, Feb. 21, at the Naval Submarine Base.
Fancher, who took command in November 2010, led a newly-formed crew through Minnesota's construction process, which culminated in the submarine's commissioning in September and a homeport shift to Groton last month.
“Words escape me for how proud I am of the crew,” said Fancher, who will next serve as deputy commander under Commander, Task Force 69 in Naples, Italy.
Fancher also thanked the crew for what he called “the best job that I have ever had.”
Tanaka, who was raised in Rochester, Minn., said he feels honored to succeed Minnesota's first commanding officer and lead a vessel named for his home state.
“I am very proud to call Minnesota home, so serving as USS Minnesota's commanding officer is truly an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “During the turnover process, I have been nothing less than impressed with the professionalism, expertise and dedication of the crew and families of Minnesota.”
Tanaka previously served as a Navy liaison to the U.S. House of Representatives in the Navy's Office of Legislative Affairs. He served aboard attack submarines USS Memphis (SSN 691) and USS Jefferson City (SSN 759), and served as the executive officer on the ballistic-missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN 736).
Tanaka now leads more than 130 officers and enlisted sailors assigned to the Minnesota. The submarine is in the yard for maintenance, repairs, alterations and testing as part of its post-shakedown availability.