By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Sara B. Sexton, Commander, Task Force 70 Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Cmdr. Robert Shu relieved Cmdr. Christopher England as the commanding officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) during a change of command ceremony at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), Dec. 15.
England was Fitzgerald’s commanding officer of since 2012 and will serve his next tour at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
“We have had some challenges to overcome along the way but this team ensured that Fitzgerald was ready to fight tonight and execute smartly when called upon,” said England. “Thank you all for being shipmates and to my crew, thank you for letting me be your captain.”
Fitzgerald’s change of command comes at the end of her 2015 patrol. During the course of about six months, Fitzgerald participated in: exercise Multi-Sail 2015, which included the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF); the sixth annual Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) Vietnam where the Secretary of the Navy addressed the crews of Fitzgerald and the other participating ships highlighting the importance of fostering relations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific; an anti-submarine warfare exercise with the Republic of Korea Navy near Busan, South Korea, which included a port visit to Busan where the crew participated in a number of community relations events; a training event with JMSDF midshipmen on navigational techniques, divisional tactics (DIVTACS) and live-fire drills; exercise Talisman Sabre 2015; supporting role in President Barack Obama’s visit to Manila, Philippines; and continued routine patrols in the South China Sea in support of security and stability in the region.
“Fitzgerald, we’ve been through a lot the last 18 months and I can’t wait to see what the next 18 months bring,” said Shu. “I know that whatever challenges arise, you’ll handle it in the same professional and steadfast manner which I’ve grown accustomed to seeing you execute and am honored to serve with you all.”
Shu reported as the executive officer of Fitzgerald in May 2014.
Fitzgerald is one of eight destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 which are forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.