– Capt. Heidi Agle relieved Capt. Cathal O’Connor as Commander Amphibious Squadron 11 (CPR 11) during a ceremony aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Nov. 14, 2013.
Sailors, Marines, family members, distinguished guests from the community and leaders from the Japan Maritime and Ground Self Defense Forces attended the ceremony.
O’Connor assumed command of CPR 11 Aug. 3, 2012. During his tenure, O’Connor led CPR 11 through several joint exercises with partner nations throughout the Western Pacific. He also oversaw the hull swap between USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and USS Ashland (LSD 48).
“I’m honored to stand here for the last time as Commander Amphibious Squadron 11,” said O’Connor. “To the crew of the Bonhomme Richard, the flagship looks great, thank you for hosting this event and your continued support during my tenure in Sasebo.”
Agle previously served as the CPR 11 deputy commodore. Her previous tours include commanding officer of USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), executive officer of USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), and Joint Chiefs of Staff and Military Faculty at Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University.
“Capt. O’Connor, I could not have asked for a better boss, mentor, and friend,” said Agle. “I’m especially humbled and honored as I take up the mantle of command to lead the team departing this afternoon for the Philippines. Tasked with a mission to provide much needed humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, I depart grateful for the blessings we enjoy but often take for granted.”
The guest speaker for the ceremony was Capt. Walt Towns, deputy commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Expeditionary Strike Group 7 and Task Force 76.
During the ceremony, Towns commented on O’Connor's leadership and the dedication of the Sailors under his command.
“We are here today to formally recognize your accomplishments but really the change of command isn’t about the commodore. It is a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of the command itself which, in my eyes, means we celebrate the crew,” said Towns. “You have led the squadron through several bilateral and multilateral exercises with exemplary leadership and an unparalleled dedication to duty. I congratulate you on a superbly executed tour of commodore as the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious squadron.”
Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. Amphibious Ready Group and serves as the flagship for Combined Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force commander. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.