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Singapore - Cmdr. Benjamin Allbritton, former commanding officer of USS Gridley (DDG 101) is ceremonially piped off the ship following the change of command ceremony. (Photo by Lt.j.g Elijah Waddle).
USS Gridley Change of Command 
By LTJG Elijah Waddle, USS Gridley (DDG 101) Public Affairs Officer 
SINGAPORE - USS Gridley (DDG 101) held a change of command ceremony in Changi, Singapore, Sept. 4. Cmdr. Benjamin Allbritton turned over command of the guided missile destroyer to Cmdr. Rick Kratzer with the crew assembled on the forecastle.

The ceremony was conducted during a port visit to Naval Base Changi in Singapore in the beginning of a scheduled 6-month deployment to the 5th Fleet Area of Operations.

The ceremony marked the end of a 17-month command tour for Allbritton. After serving as the ship’s executive officer for eighteen months, Allbritton took command on March 15, 2011. Prior to arriving aboard USS Gridley, Allbritton served as the auxiliaries and electrical officer on USS John A. Moore (FFG 19), as auxiliaries and electrical officer on USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), and as the operations officer on USS McClusky (FFG 41). He commanded USS Hurricane (PC 3) from February 2003 to December 2004. Later, he served aboard USS Antietam (CG 54) as executive officer. Allbritton's deployments encompass the inaugural Cooperative Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise, operations in the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf with the Nimitz and John C. Stennis carrier strike groups, an eastern Pacific counter-narcotics deployment, and operations in the Pacific Northwest for homeland defense during Operation NOBLE EAGLE. Three of his ships earned four Battle Efficiency awards.

During his speech Allbritton expressed his gratitude for the love and support given to him throughout his career by his wife and family. He also thanked the crew for all of their hard work and their excellence. “It has been my honor and privilege to serve with the men and women of Gridley. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew.”

Allbritton’s next duty assignment is senior engineering assessor, Engineering Assessment, Pacific in San Diego.

Kratzer enlisted in the Navy in 1988. After completing the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) program in 1992, he received his commission in 1996 through the NROTC program at the University of San Diego, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. He completed sea tours as a division officer on USS Reuben James (FFG 57), as the operations officer on USS Hewitt (DD 966), and as the Engineering Officer on USS Preble (DDG 88). CDR Kratzer’s deployments encompass operations in the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. He served as the ship’s executive officer prior to taking command.

In his remarks, Kratzer thanked Allbritton for the “excellent job in ensuring every Sailor was superbly trained and prepared to meet the demands of the deployment.”

“Gridley’s success is a direct reflection of your exceptional leadership. Gridley has a performance record and reputation second to none. I am grateful and humbled to serve in your footsteps.”

Kratzer also had a few words for the crew.

“You have been working hard… accumulating unique experiences and memories and discharging some rather challenging and special responsibilities. To date your standard of conduct and performance has been so superlative that you have received accolades and praise from all corners of the San Diego waterfront. You knocked off record after record. In the coming weeks, you’ll have to band together like never before to meet the challenges ahead,” He said.

USS Gridley is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) ONE. The ship is currently embarked on a six-month deployment in support of counter-piracy operations. Learn more about USS Gridley at http://www.gridley.navy.mil/ and follow them on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/USS-Gridley-DDG-101/116135718461603.
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