Friday, May 20, 2005

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Twenty-five years after he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Navy Capt. Bruce E. Grooms will become the academy’s first black commandant of midshipmen, a position similar to the dean of students at a civilian college or university.

Capt. Grooms, a native of Cleveland, was until recently the commodore of Submarine Squadron Six in Norfolk. He will be the academy’s 81st commandant, succeeding Capt. Charles J. Leidig Jr.

Capt. Grooms’ office in Norfolk told the Annapolis Capital on Thursday that he already has transferred to the commandant’s office in Annapolis.

The academy’s public information office would not provide details of the change in the commandant’s office, saying that an announcement will be made next month.

As a midshipman, Capt. Grooms was a company officer and captain of the basketball team his senior year.

He is one of the ?Centennial Seven,? the seven black officers who have commanded a ship in the submarine service’s first 100 years.

And while the first black commander of a submarine wasn’t appointed until 1982, the submarine force always tended to be more liberal about race than the rest of the Navy, said Glenn Knoblock, author of ?Black Submariners in the United State Navy — 1939 to 1975.?

Capt. Grooms received the 2000 National Society of Black Engineers Golden Torch Award for Lifetime Service.

He also received the 1999 Vice Adm. James Stockdale Leadership Award for outstanding leadership while commanding the fast-attack submarine, USS Asheville.

Capt. Leidig, also a submariner, came to the academy in September 2003.

He will serve as commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Marianas in Guam and is on the list to be promoted to rear admiral lower half.

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