A native of New Mexico is set become the first commanding officer of his state's namesake submarine, PCU New Mexico (SSN 779).
Cmdr. Robert Dain detached March 24 as Submarine Squadron 7's deputy commander for readiness to begin the Submarine Command Course prior to assuming command of New Mexico's pre-commissioning unit in August.
Dain was born in Shiprock, N.M., and raised in Tijeras and Cedar Crest, N.M., east of Albuquerque. He said his New Mexico ties make this command an ideal job for him, and he has already been in touch with family members, the Navy League and the USS New Mexico association about the commissioning.
“This is a tremendous opportunity that comes once in a lifetime,” said Dain. “The chance to be a part of the construction phase of the second ship named after my home state is truly a dream.”
While Dain said he is thrilled to take command of his state's namesake, he said that was actually not a factor in his being detailed there.
“It takes a lot of hard work to be selected as a commanding officer,” he said. “Many factors are involved, but I think what led to my selection was my experience in engineering and shipyard environments.”
The 21-year Navy veteran said he was eager to command the Navy's newest class of submarine. Virginia-class submarines are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean, littoral missions and for multi-mission operations. Its capabilities include strike, battle group support, and special operations.
“Virginia-class submarines incorporate more modern technologies and the ability to reconfigure for different mission platforms,” said Dain.
While Dain was looking forward to commanding a new ship bearing his state's name, he said he looked forward most to leading the people under his command.
“My philosophy is taking care of my people. They are my greatest asset,” said Dain. “I would like to get the crew going in the right direction for success and establish the processes that will enable success.”
“A successful commanding officer takes good vision and hard work from the commander and the entire team,” he added.
Dain attended St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque and graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
When she is delivered to the fleet in about 2011, New Mexico will be the sixth Virginia-class submarine. One notable feature of Virginia-class submarines is that it has two extendable photonics masts outside the pressure hull, replacing the traditional periscope.
Each contains several high-resolution cameras with light-intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and an integrated Electronic Support Measures (ESM) array along with the use of fiber optics.
Virginia-class submarines can be armed with Tomahawk missiles, Mark 48 torpedoes, advanced mobile mines, and unmanned undersea vehicles.
The first ship bearing the name New Mexico was the battleship USS New Mexico (BB 40). She was launched in 1917 and acted as the flagship for the Pacific Fleet during the 1920s. She was present at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.
By Journalist 2nd Class Corwin Colbert, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs