US submarine force in the Pacific gets new commander as Roegge takes over from Sawyer

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The U.S. Navy is installing a new commander to lead its submarine force in the Pacific.

Rear Adm. Frederick Roegge (ROW-gee) took over from Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on Thursday.

Roegge most recently served in the Pentagon. Sawyer is becoming deputy and chief of staff for the U.S. Pacific Fleet and will stay in Hawaii.

The change comes as growing Chinese operations in places like the South China Sea are boosting U.S. demand for the eavesdropping capabilities of underwater vessels.

Lexington Institute Defense Analyst Loren Thompson says submarines are the only type of intelligence gathering systems that are well suited to listening to Chinese communications.

Thompson says intelligence gathering is the single most important mission for the Pacific Fleet's submarine force.