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Tanaka relinquishes reins of Naval Base Kitsap

Capt. Mark J. Olson (left) salutes outgoing Naval Base Kitsap Capt. Reid S. Tanaka at the change of command ceremony Wednesday. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Capt. Mark J. Olson (left) salutes outgoing Naval Base Kitsap Capt. Reid S. Tanaka at the change of command ceremony Wednesday.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

“I relieve you sir,” Capt. Mark Olson said.

“I stand relieved,” Capt. Reid Tanaka replied.

And with that, the command of Naval Base Kitsap changed hands.

Olson assumed command of Naval Base Kitsap Wednesday at a change of command ceremony at the Bangor theater. Tanaka left a couple of days ago to serve as chief of staff with Carrier Strike Group Five aboard the USS George Washington in Yokosuka, Japan.

Tanaka assumed command of Naval Base Kitsap in August 2005 and reluctantly stepped down from his role as commanding officer of the “new submarine capital.”

“My time at Naval Base Kitsap has truly been a blur,” Tanaka said.

During Tanaka’s time at Naval Base Kitsap, five submarines moved to the base. The USS Maine and USS Louisiana, moved from Kings Bay, Ga. to Bangor. The USS Jimmy Carter, USS Seawolf and USS Connecticut also moved to Bangor from Groton, Conn.

The USS Ohio and USS Michigan, formerly Trident submarines carrying nuclear weapons (SSBNs), were converted and now carry conventional missiles and special operations forces (SSGNs). Tanaka also was in command when the USS Abraham Lincoln, a carrier based in Everett, spent nine months in Bremerton.

“Everybody had to give a little, everybody had to move a little,” Tanaka said.

Vice Adm. Robert Conway Jr., commander of Navy Installations Command, spoke at the ceremony and said Tanaka “never lost sight of the sailors and their family needs.”

“It takes a special leader to succeed in this environment,” Conway said. “Command is nothing to be taken lightly.”

Naval Base Kitsap is consistently recognized for its food service, living quarters and environmental policies. Conway said the accomplishments of the base resulted from Tanaka’s character and leadership.

Tanaka said Olson is “the right man to be commanding officer.” Olson told the crowd of hundreds he was always curious about the commanding officer role and now the job is his.

“Be careful what you ask for,” he joked.

Olson is no stranger to Naval Base Kitsap. The Minnesota native served as executive officer aboard the Bangor-based USS Ohio’s Gold Crew from 1996 to 1998 and took command of the USS Henry M. Jackson, also stationed at Bangor, in 2001.

“This is not an unfamiliar place for us,” Olson said.

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