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Afloat Training Group Pacific Commodore Retires at Change Command

By Surface Forces Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – Afloat Training Group Pacific (ATGPAC) held a change of command ceremony pierside at Naval Base San Diego, Nov. 10. ATGPAC Commodore, Capt. Peter W. D. Morford turned over command to Capt. David F. Matawitz, and then retired.

The ceremony marked the end of a very successful command tour for Morford that began in Oct. 2006. ATGPAC oversees the four ATG commands in San Diego; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Yokosuka, Japan; and Everette, Wash. responsible for unit level training of the surface warships of the Pacific Fleet.

Vice Adm. D. C. Curtis, Commander Naval Surface Forces, was the guest speaker at the event. “Because of ATG and Commodore Morford’s personal initiative, not a single PACFLT (Pacific Fleet) ship was unable to meet a naval operational requirement due to lack of training,” he said. “I think that is a pretty impressive record.” Then he thanked the commodore for his 28 years of service and Morford’s family for their sacrifice and support.

Morford was one of the key architects in implementing the Surface Warfare Officer School Introduction course for new junior officers. He oversaw the first 12 west coast classes in four fleet concentration areas, preparing more than 300 ensigns for the challenges of shipboard duty. He also oversaw the smooth integration of four new ship classes into the San Diego waterfront, including the Littoral Combat Ship.

“I passionately believe training is the most important thing the Navy does,” said Morford. Then he thanked the people who have influenced his career over the years.

Morford was raised in Columbus, Ohio, and was commissioned through Cornell University’s NROTC program in 1981 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Following initial nuclear propulsion training, he began his career at sea aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68), as reactor mechanical division officer.

His other tours at sea were as ASW Officer in USS Peterson (DD 969), operations officer in USS Thach (FFG 43), reactor electrical assistant in USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), and executive officer in USS Halyburton (FFG 40). Morford commanded USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), forward deployed from Sasebo, Japan. He then returned for his second tour aboard Nimitz, this time serving as reactor officer. Next, Captain Morford commanded Amphibious Squadron 3, deploying to the Arabian Gulf with the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group (PELESG) as sea combat commander in 2006, and returning as PELESG Commander.

Capt. Matawitz, a native of Kirtland, Ohio was commissioned in 1983 after graduation with distinction from the Virginia Military Institute in Lexinton, Va. Where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry.

“ATG is the definitive expert on training procedures, training standards, and doing the right thing when it comes to getting warships ready for tasking,” said Matawitz. “ATG has been a big part of my career since I was an ensign. When I was asking what is right and what is wrong, ATG always had the answers. I’m thrilled I can now finally make a contribution from the other side,” he said.

Matawitz’ sea duty assignments include tours as damage control assistant and anti-submarine warfare officer in USS Sides (FFG 14), engineering officer in USS Paul F. Foster (DD 964), commissioning engineer aboard USS Rainier (AOE 7), executive officer in USS Ingraham (FFG 61), commanding officer in USS Ford (FFG 54) and USS Port Royal (CG 73).

His graduate education includes a masters degree in safety engineering from National University, and in national security affairs from the Naval War College.

Capt. Morford retired at the end of the change of command ceremony after 28 years of honorable service. He presented his wife Sandy, and daughter Megan with flowers and thanked them for their support. Morford requested permission to go ashore one last time, and was “piped ashore” in the traditional Navy fashion. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Morford family was also piped ashore, marking the end of a long, successful Navy career.

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