Story Number: NNS140221-12Release Date: 2/21/2014 12:07:00 PM
By Lt. Timothy Hawkins, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs
GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Command of Virginia-class attack submarine USS Minnesota (SSN 783) was officially handed over to a Minnesota-native, Feb. 21, during a change-of-command ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.
Cmdr. Brian Tanaka formally relieved Capt. John Fancher during a 10 a.m. ceremony inside the base's main auditorium. Leaders from the states of Minnesota and Connecticut joined family members and crewmen in witnessing the time-honored event.
"Words escape me for how proud I am of the crew," Fancher said.
Fancher's three-year command tour began in November 2010. He led a newly formed crew through Minnesota's construction process, which culminated in the submarine's commissioning in September and homeport shift to Groton last month.
Fancher said Minnesota was successful because it had high standards. He also thanked crewmembers for what he called "the best job that I have ever had."
The Indiana-native is headed to Naples, Italy where he will serve as deputy commander under Commander, Task Force 69, a unit that plans and coordinates submarine and anti-submarine warfare operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility.
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 began his naval career in 1996 after graduating from Marquette University in Milwaukee with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry. He earned his officer commission through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program.
He completed deployments to the Northern Atlantic and Western Pacific while serving aboard attack submarines USS Memphis (SSN 691) and USS Jefferson City (SSN 759). He also completed two strategic deterrent patrols as executive officer aboard ballistic-missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN 736).
Tanaka now leads the more than 130 officers and enlisted personnel assigned to Minnesota. The submarine recently began its post-shakedown availability, a time period that allows a newly commissioned submarine to receive final maintenance, repairs, alterations and testing.
"I am looking forward to getting to work, finishing the final stages of the delivery process and transitioning the ship to a 'deployment-ready' status in order to support national security priorities around the world," he said.
Before reporting to Minnesota, Tanaka served as a Navy liaison to the U.S. House of Representatives in the Navy's Office of Legislative Affairs.
He holds a master's degree in engineering management from Catholic University of America and is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Seminar XXI program in International Affairs and Foreign Policy.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.