Norfolk, Virginia - Vice Admiral Charles A. Richard relieved Vice Admiral Joseph E. Tofalo as Commander, Submarine Forces/Submarine Force Atlantic/Allied Submarine Command during a change of command ceremony onboard the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Washington (SSN 787) Friday at Naval Station Norfolk.
Since taking command of the Submarine Force in September 2015, Tofalo played a pivotal role in the future of the force. As Commander, Submarine Forces, he focused his efforts on ensuring the U.S. Navy maintains undersea superiority today and into the future. As Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic, he had operational command of all U.S. submarines home ported on the Atlantic coast, as well as supporting shore activities. As Commander, Allied Submarine Command, he acted as the principal advisor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on submarine plans, operations, and doctrine.
Tofalo kicked off remarks by reminding guests that sixty years ago today, 3 August 1958, USS Nautilus (SSN 571) reached the North Pole, and became the first submarine in history to do so.
“This “top of the world” historical reference is certainly fitting,” said Tofalo. “Because I’m “on top of the world” today, as it has been the honor of my lifetime to command the greatest submarine force the world has ever known. A force made up of 24,000 outstanding active duty, government civilians and reservists, and their families, who combined are only 4% of the greater navy, yet operate 25% of the Navy’s warships including 70% of Nation’s accountable nuclear weapons.”
Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, and Admiral Christopher Grady, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command were guest speakers during the ceremony.
Richardson, a former Commander, Submarine Forces himself, recognized the history of the submarine community and described a culture inspired by four generations—the pioneers, the warfighters, the cold warriors, and the innovators.
"Joe has led his team to strengthen the readiness of the fleet, strengthen the bonds of trust and confidence,” said Richardson. “He has spent every waking moment thinking about how to make our force stronger, ready to sail under the seas and over the horizon, to face any challenge, and to return stronger than when we left.”
In welcoming and recognizing the many distinguished guests at today’s ceremony, Grady also lauded Tofalo’s leadership, his continued support of excellence, and the elite culture that he established within the submarine community.
A native of upstate New York, Tofalo graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He also holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management from Catholic University of America. His father was a 35-year career naval officer, and his mother was a Navy WAVE, one of the first enlisted women in the Navy.
Tofalo was commanding officer of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Maine (SSBN 741), and was Commander, Submarine Squadron 3, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Prior sea assignments include the Permit-class attack submarine USS Flasher (SSN 613), the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727), and the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Montpelier (SSN 765).
His shore assignments include three assignments on Commander, Submarine Forces staff; two assignments on Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces staff; four assignments on the Chief of Naval Operations staff; U.S. Joint Forces Command; and the Joint Staff.
Selected for Rear Admiral in December 2009, his first flag assignment was as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Global Force Management and Joint Operations (N3B), U.S. Fleet Forces Command. In August 2011, he relieved as Commander, Submarine Group 10, and in December 2013 as Director, Undersea Warfare on the Chief of Naval Operations staff in the Pentagon.
Tofalo retired from active duty as part of the ceremony after more than 35 years of service in the U.S. Navy, and left the Force with one last challenge.
“To the Sailors and the Force, I challenge you to continue our emphasis on competence and character, relentlessly pursuing your theoretical maximum performance as both individuals and teams,” he said. “I also challenge you to continue to do everything with honesty and integrity. Revel in hard facts and the certitude of being a standards-based organization.”
Upon assuming command, Richard thanked Tofalo for passing on a Force that is “ready to deliver” and reassured Richardson, Grady and Hyten that he understands their strategic guidance and the important role submarines play in the nation’s defense.
“The mission of our Submarine Force today is clear, said Richard. “We are back in a world in the midst of major power competition. In that competition our strength undersea is a key advantage that we have,” said Richard. “That will not change on my watch. With so much at stake, we cannot let up and must execute our mission with a continued sense of urgency.”
To the men and women of the Submarine Force, Richard delivered just one thought, “Prepare for battle! This was Admiral Tofalo’s direction, and it is mine as well,” said Richard. “It is only by being prepared for battle that we can hope to avoid it. If we cannot, our nation expects and demands victory. We shall not fail!”
A native of Decatur, Alabama, and a graduate of the University of Alabama, Richard has also earned master's degrees with honors from the Catholic University of America and the Naval War College. His flag assignments include command of Submarine Group 10 in Kings Bay, Georgia, and the deputy commander of Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike at U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).
His operational assignments include command of USS Parche (SSN 683) as well as Submarine NR-1, then the U.S. Navy's only nuclear-powered, deep-submergence submarine. He also served aboard USS Portsmouth (SSN 707), USS Asheville (SSN 758) and USS Scranton (SSN 756).
Richard's recent staff assignments include service as the executive assistant and naval aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy; chief of staff, Submarine Force Atlantic; and command of Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 17 in Bangor, Washington. Other staff assignments include director of resources on the staff of the Under Secretary of Sefense (policy); squadron engineer on the staff of SUBRON-8 and duty on the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Submarine Warfare) staff. He has also served as a member of Chief of Naval Operations' Strategic Studies Group XXVIII, studying the integration of unmanned systems into naval force structure.
Richard previously served as the director, Undersea Warfare Division (N97) in Washington, D.C., and was responsible for the planning, programming and budgeting for acquisition, operational readiness and modernization of the submarine force and its support. He most recently served as deputy commander of United States Strategic Command.