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Top officer at sub base retires, Submarine Group Two disestablished

By Tess Townsend

Publication: theday.com

Published August 22. 2014 10:59AM   Updated August 23. 2014 2:13PM
Tim Cook/The Day
Vice Admiral Michael J. Connor, commander of Submarine Forces, upper left, salutes as he boards the Virginia-class, fast attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN780) at the start of the disestablishment ceremony for the command and support staff of Submarine Group 2, and retirement ceremony of Submarine Group 2 Commander Rear Admiral Kenneth M. Perry aboard the the Missouri at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.

Groton – Submarine Group 2 Rear Adm. Kenneth Perry symbolically ended his career with the U.S. Navy this morning during the disestablishment ceremony for the submarine group much as he began his tenure as the group’s flag officer - with an exchange of handshakes and salutes.

Unlike the April 2013 ceremony in which Perry took the helm from previous Rear Adm. Richard P. Breckenridge, his responsibility did not transfer to a new admiral at the Groton base.

Perry is slated to retire Sept. 30, according to Navy spokesman Lt. Timothy Hawkins. The retiring admiral may be the base’s last flagship officer. Attack submarines on the East Coast will now report to the submarine force commander in Norfolk, Va.

"To all my ship mates, thanks for a great adventure," Perry said soon before asking Vice Adm. Michael Connor for permission for the last time to go ashore.

The disestablishment of Submarine Group 2 was announced by the U.S. Navy last year as a way of streamlining the command-and-control structure for all Atlantic-based attack submarines. The Navy has been in the process of eliminating 45 military and civilian positions from the group’s command headquarters since that time.

Staff in those positions are being transferred to other commands, some in Groton and some at other bases, according to Hawkins.

Robert Hamilton, the late Electric Boat spokesman and before that a longtime reporter at The Day, was honored during the ceremony held aboard the USS Missouri (SSN 780).

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Vice Adm. Michael Connor emphasized the importance of Naval Submarine Base to Navy operations and the Navy's continuing commitment to the base during the ceremony.

Perry in his speech during the ceremony reflected wistfully upon his career of more than 30 years, which took him around the world, before reading the decommissioning orders.

"The most rewarding parts of my career have been at sea, on the ocean," he said.

He thanked his colleagues and family for their support and for having confidence in him from the beginning of his career.

Connor referred to the submarine group as "the heart" of the Navy submarine force's Cold War efforts. He said the Navy's commitment would not diminish with the group's disestablishment.

Blumenthal said the ceremony served "to mark a transition, but really to celebrate service." He later continued that the importance of the base "will only continue."

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