Jacksonville’s Namesake Navy Submarine Gets New Commander For Decommissioning

Jun 26, 2020

The USS Jacksonville has a new commander to lead the sub on what is expected to be its final chapter with the Navy.

On Thursday, Cmdr.  James “Andy” Wiest, from Anderson, SC, relieved Cmdr. David Vehon, from Apache Junction, AZ, to assume responsibilities as the Jacksonville’s commanding officer.

The Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast-attack sub is being decommissioned by the Navy after 36 years of service.

“I am most honored and humbled to have been the commanding officer onboard Jacksonville,” said Vehon. “Leading the amazing warriors of this mighty warship has been the greatest privilege of my military career and I know that nothing in the future will ever compare.”

The Jacksonville, named after Florida’s largest city, completed its final deployment in 2017. The sub is being retired from active service, a process that can take several years.

“We look forward to working with you as you lead through the final victorious chapter in the impressive life of the United States Ship Jacksonville – Welcome!” said Richard Massie, commodore, Submarine Squadron 19, who was also on hand for the ceremony.

The Jacksonville is at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton in Washington for its decommissioning.

WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reported in 2017 that among the Jacksonville’s proudest moments was gathering intelligence as the nation moved to retaliate after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York.

Built in Groton, Conn., the Jacksonville was christened in 1978.  It was last homeported at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii after being moved from Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.