CDR Jesse Porter, USN was relieved on Monday, October 31, 2016 at a Change of Command Ceremony on board the USS ILLINOIS by CDR Neil J. Steinhagen. USN
Commanding Officer – CDR Neil J. Steinhagen
CDR Neil J. Steinhagen USN is a native of Clinton, IA. He enlisted in the Navy in 1992. After being accepted into the Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program, he graduated in 1999 from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical engineering. He has since earned a Master’s of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
After completing nuclear and submarine training, his sea assignments began in 2000 aboard the USS SEAWOLF (SSN-21) in Groton, CT. In 2003, he transferred to the USS JIMMY CARTER (SSN-23) to complete new construction and at-sea testing. As a department had he served as the Operations Officer aboard USS TOLEDO (SSN-769) followed by his Executive Officer tour aboard USS ALEXANDRIA (SSN-757). He has deployed overseas three times in support of submarine missions including operations in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea.
Ashore, CDR Steinhagen’s tours include Commander Submarine Development Squadron Twelve and the Undersea Warfighting Development Center.
In addition to the Submarine Gold Dolphins, CDR Steinhagen has earned the Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), Navy Commendation Medal (3 awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal (2 awards) in addition to several unit awards.
CDR Steinhagen is married to the former Rebecca Bergman from Raleigh, NC and has 3 children, Tanner, Sierra, and Abigail.
Executive Officer – LCDR Preston Gilmore
Chief of the Boat – HMCM David DiPietro
Master Chief DiPietro was born and raised in Swampscott, Massachusetts and entered Naval Service in September 1988, attending Recruit Training and Hospital Corps ‘A’ School in San Diego, California. Master Chief DiPietro’s first assignment was to Combat Service Support Detachment 23 at Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina, followed by "C" School at Naval Aerospace Medical Institute and then to Naval Air Station South Weymouth, Massachusetts from 1989 until 1992 where he provided aviation medicine support to Marine Air Group 49, HSL-47 and VP-92. His next duty was with Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Seven in Jacksonville, Florida from 1992 until 1996 where he earned his Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist Qualification and completed two Mediterranean/ Persian Gulf deployments onboard USS JOHN F KENNEDY and USS DWIGHT D EISENHOWER and joint operations in Haiti.
After leaving Jacksonville, he graduated as Honor Graduate from Submarine Independent Duty Corpsman School in Groton, Connecticut followed by assignment as the Medical Department Representative onboard USS WEST VIRGINIA (SSBN 736) (GOLD) home ported in Kings Bay, Georgia from 1997 until 2000. While onboard WEST VIRGINIA he completed five strategic deterrent patrols, earned his Silver Dolphins, was selected as Sailor of the Year 1999 and was advanced to Chief Petty Officer. His next assignment was as the Leading Chief at the Naval Ambulatory Care Clinic at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine from 2000 to 2003. While there he completed a two month joint service deployment to Vietnam searching for MIA remains.
He transferred in October 2003 to USS SAN JUAN (SSN 751) out of Groton, Connecticut from 2003 until 2006 where he was selected as the COMSUBGRU TWO QMCM Dennis Sulzer Memorial Leadership Award winner for 2005 and advanced to Senior Chief in 2006. In July 2006 he was selected and assigned as a Chief of the Boat.
Master Chief DiPietro completed his first Chief of the Boat tour onboard USS HELENA (SSN 725) from January 2007 through October 2010 deploying to the Western Pacific and the Arctic Ocean making the first winter transit of the Bering Strait by a Los Angeles Class submarine and completed a change of homeport from San Diego to the shipyard in Kittery, Maine where he oversaw the ship’s Engineered Overhaul.
In October 2010 he transferred to Command Leadership School in Newport, Rhode Island where he served as a primary instructor for the Command Master Chief/ Chief of the Boat Course and facilitator for PCO, PXO and Major Command Courses. He transferred in July 2013 to the PCU ILLINOIS (SSN 786) in Groton, Connecticut where he is currently assigned as the Chief of the Boat.
Master Chief DiPietro’s personal awards include the Navy Commendation Medal (five awards), Navy Achievement Medal (four awards), Good Conduct Medal (seven awards) and various service and campaign awards. He holds aBachelor of Science Degree in Health Care Management. He lives with his wife and four children in Ledyard, Connecticut.
The crew of the Pre-Commissioning Unit ILLINOIS (SSN 786) is comprised of 20 Commissioned Officers, 18 Chief Petty Officers and 99 Enlisted Submariners. Three crew members hail from Illinois while the remainder are from throughout the United States. The Submarine Force is considered one of the elite services of the military. All Submariners are volunteers and must meet rigorous standards.
In addition to completing basic Officer and Enlisted training, all Submariners must Qualify in Submarines- an arduous process that typically takes 9-12 months. During the process, the fledgling Submariner will qualify his first in port and at sea watches and learn every detail about the construction and operation of the submarine as well as damage control, submarine escape and survivability and atmosphere control. Additionally, Officers will focus on tactics, ship handling and submarine operations. It is a long tradition that every Submariner is said to be capable of performing every job on board and combating any casualty. Once qualified, they are authorized to wear the Gold (Officers) or Silver (Enlisted) Dolphins- the most cherished decoration for a Submariner.
The first crew members of ILLINOIS reported in July of 2013 to General Dynamics- Electric Boat in Groton, CT where they have been assisting in the construction and testing of the ship while training and preparing for Sea Trials which will take place in late 2015. Any crew member who is on board at the time of commissioning is called a "Plank Owner", harking back to the days of wooden ships when each crew member of a newly built ship would claim a plank as his own before it was affixed to the hull.