SASEBO, Japan – Cmdr. Bryce Benson relieved Cmdr. Robert Shu as the commanding officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) during a change of command ceremony onboard U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, May 13.
Shu has served as Fitzgerald’s Commanding Officer since December 2015 and will serve his next tour at Commander, Task Force 70 (CTF 70) in Yokosuka, Japan.
“It is coincidental that change of command will not be in our homeport of Yokosuka and instead in Sasebo. Both myself and Cmdr. Benson formally had commands in Sasebo on mine sweepers.” said Shu.
Fitzgerald is returning from Ballistic Missile Defense patrol in the Asia-Pacific region. In February Fitzgerald completed its Ship Restricted Availability (SRA) that included $21 million in upgrades and repairs. Since then Fitzgerald has participated in exercise Multi-Sail 2017 with Japan Maritime Self-Defense (JMSDF), completed multiple replenishments as sea (RAS), and made port calls in Guam, Subic Bay, Philippines, and Sasebo, Japan.
“I look forward to being with my Fitzgerald family in support of future missions and exercises. This is the best ship and the best crew on the waterfront, hands down!” said Benson. “I am proud to work alongside the Navy’s best and brightest men and women who protect and support the Pacific region and our allies.”
Benson reported as the executive officer November 2015.
Commander Destroyer Squadron 15, Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, was the guest speaker for the change of command. “FITZ has always been ready for every task and performed admirably. You set the bar for readiness. You are executing national tasking right now. I am super proud of this crew, you all are rock stars.” said Bennett.
Fitzgerald is one of eight destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 that are forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.