USS Topeka Conducts Change of Command Ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff & Agencies

Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Barnes | JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (Jan. 25, 2024) — JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (Jan. 25, 2024) Cmdr. Christopher Clevenger, incoming commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754), right, relieves Cmdr. James Fulks, outgoing commanding officer of Topeka, during the change of command ceremony for the Topeka on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 25, 2024. Topeka, commissioned Oct. 21, 1989, is the third ship of the United States Navy named for the city of Topeka, Kan., and is the fourth “improved” Los Angeles-class submarine. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Scott Barnes)

Commander Chris Clevenger Relieves Cmdr. James Fulks as Commanding Officer


In a dignified ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on January 25, 2024, the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) witnessed a change of command as Commander Chris Clevenger assumed the role of commanding officer, relieving Cmdr. James Fulks.

Cmdr. Fulks, hailing from Palos Verdes, California, expressed his profound gratitude for the experience of serving as Topeka’s captain. “This has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience of my career. It has been a fantastic honor to work alongside my crew and do incredible things together. I’ll never forget it,” said Fulks, who took command of Topeka in May 2021.

Under Cmdr. Fulks’ leadership, USS Topeka navigated out of the shipyard and ventured back into the sea. Notable accomplishments during his tenure included supporting two submarine command courses, participating in Exercise RIMPAC 2022, and completing a deployment in the Indo-Pacific region, carrying out critical missions.

Capt. Paul Davis, Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) Director of Maritime Operations, served as the guest speaker for the ceremony. He commended Cmdr. Fulks and the crew for successfully undertaking a myriad of challenging missions, stating, “Topeka was completing a maintenance availability that had outfitted it with some of the most advanced warfighting capabilities in the world.”

Cmdr. Fulks will be moving on to his next assignment at COMSUBPAC in Pearl Harbor, where he is set to join the Type Commander Readiness Evaluation team. Capt. Davis acknowledged Fulks not only for his tactical and operational contributions but also for leaving behind a lasting culture and legacy.

Incoming Commander Chris Clevenger, previously serving as the Deputy Commander for Submarine Squadron 7 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, expressed enthusiasm for his new role. “Seeing all the extraordinary accomplishments the Topeka has done over the past years and the fantastic turnover I have received has made me not only excited to be the CO of this great submarine but grateful for the opportunity to lead this amazing crew,” stated Clevenger.

USS Topeka, commissioned on October 21, 1989, holds the distinction of being the oldest fast-attack submarine in the U.S. Pacific Fleet and proudly bears the name of the capital of Kansas. With a crew of approximately 130 Sailors and 17 officers, Topeka remains highly capable of executing diverse missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. As Commander Clevenger takes the helm, the legacy of excellence and dedication set by Cmdr. Fulks is poised to continue.

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