PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The most recent commander of U.S. submarines in Asia and the Middle East took command on Wednesday of the entire Pacific Fleet submarine force.

Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer succeeded Rear Adm. James Frank Caldwell Jr. during a ceremony on a platform atop the hull of the USS Jacksonville submarine.

Caldwell is leaving Hawaii for Washington to become the Navy's inspector general.

Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Cecil Haney told the crowd of several hundred guests that he wasn't able to properly salute Caldwell's achievements because it would take a decade for everyone present to acquire the necessary security clearances to hear about his work.

"For over two-and-a-half years, Frank has worked brilliantly as a leader and has ensured our unique undersea capabilities remain the best in the world while ensuring the highest standards of operational excellence," Haney said.

Haney said Caldwell improved readiness of the Pacific Fleet's undersea surveillance and rescue capabilities. Caldwell also led the Pacific submarine force as it integrated newer Virginia-class submarines into the fleet, implemented a smoking ban and brought women to serve on board some submarines.

The Navy said Caldwell improved the way commanders communicate to help the submarine force better respond to threats. He also improved coordination among submarine warfare commanders.

Sawyer was most recently based in Yokosuka, Japan, as commander of Submarine Group 7, which operates in Asia and the Middle East. The 1983 Naval Academy graduate and career submarine officer previously commanded the USS La Jolla and Submarine Squadron 15 in Guam.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet's submarine force is responsible for 60 percent of the Navy's submarines. It's also responsible for the nation's ballistic missile submarine force in the Pacific.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Aircraft Carriers

    <blockquote>"Allowing the mobile projection of Naval Air Power across the globe"</blockquote> (<a href="http://www.navy.mil/navydata/our_ships.asp" target="_blank">U.S. Navy data</a>) USS Enterprise makes its final voyage to Newport News Shipbuilding Thursday June 20, 2013. (AP Photo/US Navy, John Whalen)

  • Amphibious Assault Ships

    <blockquote>"Deploy and support U.S. ground forces in remote locations"</blockquote> (<a href="http://www.navy.mil/navydata/our_ships.asp" target="_blank">U.S. Navy data</a>) The Amphibious assault ship USS Wasp discharges an LCAC off the coast of Camp LeJeune N.C. on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • Cruisers

    <blockquote>"Multi-mission warships capable of engaging multiple simultaneous targets and employed in force support or independent action"</blockquote> (<a href="http://www.navy.mil/navydata/our_ships.asp" target="_blank">U.S. Navy data</a>) In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto approaches at sea in the Atlantic Ocean June 6, 2012. (AP Photo/US Navy)

  • Littoral Combat Ships

    <blockquote>"Fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation"</blockquote> (<a href="http://www.navy.mil/navydata/our_ships.asp" target="_blank">U.S. Navy data</a>) The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) arrives in her home port of San Diego, marking the completion of her maiden voyage. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)

  • Destroyers

    <blockquote>"Fast warships providing multi-mission offensive and defensive capability, independently or in fleet support"</blockquote> (<a href="http://www.navy.mil/navydata/our_ships.asp" target="_blank">U.S. Navy data</a>) A U.S. navy officer patrols along the bow of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), anchored shortly after its arrival at the international port of Manila on May 31, 2013. (TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Frigates

    <blockquote>"Warships designed to protect other ships and as anti-submarine warfare combatants"</blockquote> (<a href="http://www.navy.mil/navydata/our_ships.asp" target="_blank">U.S. Navy data</a>) FILE - In this July 23, 1998 file photo, the Argentine frigate Libertad takes part in an international salute to the USS Constitution as it passes in front of Boston Harbor. (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho, File)

  • Submarines

    <blockquote>"Capable of underwater operations and designed to carry out research, rescue, or specific wartime missions"</blockquote> (<a href="http://www.navy.mil/navydata/our_ships.asp" target="_blank">U.S. Navy data</a>) In this image provided by the U.S. Navy the Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine USS Montpelier (SSN 765) arrives in Souda Harbor Nov. 24, 2007 for a routine port visit. (AP Photo/US Navy, Paul Farley)