Aydt relieves Wilkinson as USS Hartford commander

Groton - Cmdr. Thomas Aydt relieved Cmdr. Steven Wilkinson as commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) during a pierside ceremony June 20 at the Naval Submarine Base.

Wilkinson assumed command in October 2011 and led Hartford during a successful six-month deployment to the U.S. European Command region of operations the following year.

"Steve relentlessly prepared his men to operate their warship at sea," said Submarine Squadron 4 commander Capt. James Waters, the keynote speaker. "The feats they accomplished is the stuff of legend within the submarine force."

Wilkinson was also credited with providing inspirational leadership that enabled Hartford's crew of 16 officers and 127 enlisted members to excel.

Last July, the U.S. Fleet Forces Command presented Hartford with the prestigious Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy, which recognized the submarine as Atlantic Fleet's most improved Navy vessel in 2012.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert stated in a May 2013 message that Hartford "consistently and measurably improved in every warfare area and achieved on-time certification for one of [Commander, Submarine Forces] most challenging deployments."

During his ceremony remarks, Wilkinson praised his crew.

"Men, you have a great deal to be proud of," he said. "You make it very, very easy to be a proud skipper."

The Washington state native will report to Submarine Development Squadron 5 in Bangor, Wash., after briefly serving as a deputy commander for Submarine Squadron 4 in Groton.

Aydt, an Illinois native, reports to Groton after a shore tour at Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Aydt enlisted in the Navy in 1988 and served as a missile technician aboard ballistic missile submarines. He later received his officer commission after graduating with a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Jacksonville University. He also has a master's in operations management from the University of Arkansas.

USS Hartford was commissioned Dec. 10, 1994, and is the second U.S. naval vessel named in honor of Connecticut's capital city.

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