Published July 19. 2014 4:00AM
Groton - Cmdr. Daniel Lombardo relieved Cmdr. Christian Williams as USS Springfield's commanding officer on Friday at a change-of-command ceremony aboard the Historic Ship Nautilus.
"We are excited to be back in Connecticut," Lombardo, who was born in Danbury, said. "I graduated from Danbury High School ... and the very next day, because we graduated too late, started at the Naval Academy. So that started my journey more than 21 years ago."
Lombardo has served as a submarine officer for 17 years. He said the commanding officer position marks the pinnacle of his career.
"I am stationed back in Connecticut for the first time for command, and that makes it just a little bit more special," he added.
Lombardo was previously part of the staff support for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. Williams is now headed to the Pentagon to serve as a support staff member for the Chief of Naval Operations.
During the ceremony, Williams thanked his wife and children for their support.
"They also serve, those who stay ashore and only wait," he said, as he read a poem.
He said the USS Springfield ran well, navigated properly and stayed in "fighting trim" because of its crew.
Rear Adm. Kenneth M. Perry was the main speaker at the ceremony and reminded the crew of the importance of "being ready for the unexpected."
He spoke of a book titled "The Long Road Home," about a U.S. Army platoon that deployed to escort sewage trucks but came under surprise attack and found it fighting for survival against hundreds of armed Iraqis.
"Although the book was written 10 years ago, it remains for me a very compelling case for being ready," Perry said.
"For being ready as a nation, for being ready as a Navy and a submarine force and a submarine crew. We live in an uncertain world. We only need to look at the news today."
Mission readiness is job No. 1 for the submarine force, and no commanding officer has developed "readiness on the waterfront better than Capt. Chris Williams, and no crew has responded to the call better than the crew of the USS Springfield," Perry said.
Lombardo said he recognizes that he has big shoes to fill.
"I am truly humbled to be your commanding officer, and I am confident that we will continue to execute the mission with excellence as a team," Lombardo said.