Change comes to top command of U.S. Submarine Forces

The vice admiral in charge is retiring after 35 years in the Navy

Adm. John M. Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, awards outgoing commander of Submarine Forces Vice Adm. Joseph Tofalo the Distinguished Service Medal during a change of command ceremony aboard the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Washington in Norfolk, Va. Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard relieved Tofalo as commander of Submarine Forces. (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of U.S. Navy and Chief Mass Communication Specialist Darryl Wood)
Adm. John M. Richardson, chief of Naval Operations, awards outgoing commander of Submarine Forces Vice Adm. Joseph Tofalo the Distinguished Service Medal during a change of command ceremony in Norfolk Friday. (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of U.S. Navy and Chief Mass Communication Specialist Darryl Wood)

NORFOLK —  The U.S. Submarine Forces had a change of command ceremony Friday that relieved the former commander and installed a new one, according to a news release from the Navy.

Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard relieved Vice Adm. Joseph Tofalo as commander of Submarine Forces. Tofalo had been commander since September 2015, and retired from active duty after serving 35 years.

According to the Navy’s news release, Tofalo focused his efforts on ensuring the 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.

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Tofalo kicked off the ceremony with remarks reminding guests that 60 years ago, Aug. 3, 1958, the USS Nautilus reached the North Pole, and became the first submarine in history to do so.

“This ‘top of the world’ historical reference is certainly fitting,” Tofalo said. “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 native of upstate New York, Tofalo graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, according to the news release. Tofalo also holds a master’s degree of science in engineering management from Catholic University of America.

Incoming commander of Submarine Forces, Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard, third from right, salutes Gen. John E. Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, as Richard assumes command of Task Force 144 during a change of command ceremony aboard the USS Washington in Norfolk. Richard relieved Vice Adm. Joseph E. Tofalo as commander of Submarine Forces (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of U.S. Navy and Jeffrey M. Richardson)
Incoming commander of Submarine Forces Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard, third from right, salutes Gen. John E. Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, during a change of command ceremony aboard the USS Washington in Norfolk. (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of U.S. Navy and Jeffrey M. Richardson)

Richard previously served as the director of undersea warfare division in Washington, D.C., and was responsible for the planning, programming and budgeting for acquisition, operational readiness of the submarine force, according to the news release. Richard most recently served as deputy commander of United States Strategic Command.

Upon assuming command, Richard thanked Tofalo for passing on a force that is “ready to deliver” and reassured leadership that he understands their strategic guidance and the important role submarines play in the nation’s defense.

“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,” Richard said. “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.”

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