Story courtesy The Dolphin, reprinted with permission.
GROTON, CT – Cmdr. Kurt Balagna, son of Duncanville residents Larry and Sheila Balagna and grandson of Gloria Kelley, relieved Cmdr. Chester Parks as commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760) during a change of command ceremony held at Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE), April 2.
Capt. Butch Dollaga, commander, Submarine Development Squadron Twelve (CSDS12), was the guest speaker and presented Parks with his second Meritorius Service Medal.
“It takes skill, determination, and endurance to develop an entire crew to work as a cohesive unit,” said Dollaga. “In Cmdr. Balagna we selected the right leader. Cmdr. Parks, congratulations on a job well done! Cmdr. Balagna, I look forward to the days ahead.”
“Cmdr. Balagna, you are about to embark on the best job in the U.S. Navy – command of USS Annapolis,” said Parks. “I look forward in continuing to hear great things about Annapolis and her new commanding officer. I wish you the best of luck and know the ship will not miss a beat with you in command.”
Balagna, a native of Farmington, Ill., enlisted in the Navy in April 1992 as a Nuclear Electronics Technician. Prior to assuming command of Annapolis he was the Virginia-class action officer on the staff of CSDS12 and Executive Officer of the Tactical Analysis Group.
“Growing up in a small farming community in central Illinois, a thousand miles from the nearest seacoast, the prospect of joining the Navy seemed distant,” said Balagna. “After much consideration while attending college, I decided to enlist and serve my country as my father and grandfathers had. However, I never imagined that someday I would achieve this milestone – commanding a submarine.
“I could not ask for a better crew. The courtesy, enthusiasm and professionalism you have shown me has been second to none. Together we will skillfully guide Annapolis into the next phase of her life. It is truly my honor to be your commanding officer and your shipmate. Thank you for your service.”
Fast-attack submarines like Annapolis have multi-faceted missions. They use their stealth, persistence, agility and firepower to deploy and support special force operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary’s military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity, and ensure undersea superiority.