Pearl Harbor, HI (May 10, 2013) - Commander James J. Juster relieved Commander Michael E. Ray as Commanding Officer of USS O’Kane (DDG 77) during a traditional change of command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickam Pier B-17 at 1000 on 10 May. Commander Juster, former Executive Officer of O’Kane, is the ship’s tenth Commanding Officer since commissioning on 23 October 1999.
“It’s been my honor and privilege to serve with this very talented crew in O’Kane during the past 18 months. I’m very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities we’ll face together in the months to come,” Commander Juster expressed.
For Commander Ray, the ceremony marked the end of a successful 18 month command tour highlighted by a seven and a half month deployment to FIFTH and SEVENTH Fleets where O’Kane conducted numerous demanding missions, including two Joint Air Defense Exercises and multiple missions with various carrier strike groups. Commander Ray reported to USS O’Kane in April 2010 as Executive Officer prior to taking command in November 2011.
“Every CO wants to leave the ship in better material condition than he inherited which is a challenge as the ship ages and sometimes rusts underneath your feet,” Commander Ray explained to the guests and crew. “Look around, and you will see a ship in excellent condition, on track for twenty more years of service.”
Commander Ray continued as he reflected on his tour, “And to the 280 men and women who carry Admiral O’Kane’s legacy each and every day: I have asked an awful lot of you and have been able to offer so little in return. Please know that the chronic smiles on your faces, the spring in your step, and the crisp execution of every task is what makes this ship, in my utterly biased opinion, the pride of the waterfront.”
Commander Ray’s next assignment will be in Newport, Rhode Island where he will serve as Executive Officer at the Surface Warfare Officer School.