SAN DIEGO – The crew and families of the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101) gathered to show their support in a picturesque change of command ceremony, March 28.
On this sunny San Diego morning, Gridley was the envy of the waterfront. Her Sailors had worked arduously to ensure the ship looked its best for the change of command – a testament to their continued faith in and dedication to Gridley’s commanding officer.
Cmdr. Gadala “Rick” Kratzer, who led the ship through a challenging six-month deployment, a long SRA and a compressed but successful basic training phase, turned command over to Cmdr. Mark Nieswiadomy, his former executive officer.
The guest speaker was Capt. Doug Stuffle, Commander, Destroyer Squadron One. Stuffle shared the pleasure he took in working with Kratzer, noting his receipt of the Epictetus Award that honors the commanding officer who models behavior for other aspiring leaders to emulate, who maintains mission focus at all times, and who demonstrates concern and a caring attitude for their shipmates.
Stuffle also expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming deployment with Gridley under Nieswiadomy’s command.
Kratzer delivered a heartfelt speech emphasizing the distinct honor it was to command Gridley. He said that he considered her Sailors “the finest group of men and women I could ever have the pleasure and honor to command.”
Kratzer continued to express his utmost confidence in Nieswiadomy’s ability to lead Gridley to continued and even greater success. His next tour of duty will be as surface operations officer on the Carrier Strike Group Five Staff in Japan.
Nieswiadomy thanked Kratzer for what he considered to be a “grand apprenticeship.” He exuded confidence and optimism about Gridley’s future deployment and its preparations.
The change of command came at a very significant time for the crew of Gridley as they near the end of a compressed yet successful basic training phase. Gridley Sailors have started integrated carrier strike group training in preparation of an upcoming deployment as part of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group.