SAN DIEGO – Guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) hosted its 13th change of command cermony, March 24, at its homeport at Naval Base San Diego.
During a formal ceremony, Cmdr. Teresa Elders relieved Capt. Rome Ruiz as Cape St. George's commanding officer. The ceremony took place in front of 200 crew members lined up in ranks and approximately 140 guests which included Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, who served as the ceremony's guest speaker.
During his speech Rowden said, “It’s a time when each of you assigned to Cape St. George witness the passing of the mantle of command from one leader to another. I couldn’t think of a place I’d rather be. But as we reflect on this transfer of responsibility and authority, we are also here to celebrate this ship, this crew, and Rome’s phenomenal leadership over the last two years.”
The event marked the end of a successful tour for Ruiz, who served as commanding officer from July 24, 2015 through March 24, 2017. During his speech, Ruiz reflected on his tour, which covered a port visit to Mazatlan, Mexico and brought Cape to San Francisco Fleet Week, San Diego Fleet Week and Los Angeles Navy Days. Ruiz then transitioned the Aegis cruiser to an inactivation phase for modernization, but not before completing combat systems and engineering assessments as well as dock and sea trials.
During his time as commanding officer, Cape received the Battle “E” for fiscal year 2015. Ruiz also hosted the People’s Liberation Army-Navy Surface Action Group in December of 2016 where Sailors from both navies participated in sporting events and cultural exchanges.
"Words cannot express how honored and proud I am for the privilege to serve alongside these phenomenal Sailors onboard this incredible ship,” said Ruiz. “As many of you know, the world we live in has quickly become more complex and challenging. A great competition among countries and entities throughout the world has commenced and the one with the will to compete and the determination to win will succeed.”
“This ship, this crew, competes and wins – Cape Sailors do not like to lose,” said Ruiz.
“As Vince Lombardi said, ‘Winning is not everything, it’s the only thing,’” he explained. “USS Cape St. George has a history of achieving and sustaining sea control as demonstrated by the Sailors who fought in the Battle of Cape St. George during World War II. That fighting spirit and climate of operational excellence continues today.”
CAPT Ruiz also acknowledged the significance of support from his family.
"To my family and our friends. Quite simply, I can’t do what I do, if not for you all. Being in the Navy is tough but my family is tougher!”
Teresa Elders is a native of San Antonio, Texas. She attended school in New Jersey and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1996. Her sea tours include USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), USS Higgins (DDG 76), and USS Princeton (CG 59). In 2005, she reported to the Commander Australian Amphibious Task Group where she served as the training officer and most recently she served as executive officer on USS Sampson (DDG 102).
“This is an exciting day for me as I join the “Dragonslayers” of USS Cape St. George,” said Elders. WWe have many unique challenges as we enter the CG Modernization program. It will be a once in a lifetime experience for most of us and I truly look forward to working with the amazing Officers and Sailors who flourished under the leadership of Capt. Ruiz.”