SAN DIEGO - USS Cowpens (CG 63) held a change of command ceremony pier-side at Naval Base San Diego, June 21st.
USS Cowpens bid farewell to Captain Robert P. Tortora and welcomed aboard Captain Gregory W. Gombert as commanding officer.
The ceremony marked the end of a highly successful 32-month major command tour for Captain Tortora, who led USS Cowpens back home to San Diego from a successful hull swap with the USS Antietam in Yokosuka, Japan. Tortora commanded Antietam for two years prior to the cruiser hull swap, leading her through Cruise Modernization and a Board of Inspection and Survey, ensuring she was ready to serve with forward deployed naval forces in the western pacific.
Tortora said that his time on Antietam and Cowpens “has been an incredibly rewarding tour. For 32 months the crew has impressed me with their motivation and hard work!”
Captain Tortora was awarded the Legion of Merit by Vice Admiral Copeman, Commander Naval Surface Forces. Tortora’s next assignment will be in Washington, DC on the Chief of Naval Operations’ staff with the Director of Surface Warfare (OPNAV N96).
Captain Gombert assumes command as the Cowpens prepares for an upcoming deployment, and after reading his orders and taking command, he addressed the crew, stating “in Cowpens serves a Crew of war fighting diplomats... young naval attaches that represent the best our country has to offer. I’m grateful for this opportunity and honored to follow the esteemed Captain Tortora.”
USS Cowpens is the 17th TICONDEROGA class guided missile cruiser. Cowpens is named to commemorate the Revolutionary War battle fought at the “Cow Pens” in South Carolina.