FORTE DE FRANCE, Martinique - USS Thach (FFG 43) held a change of command ceremony aboard the ship while underway in the Caribbean, April 5.
Cmdr. Jeffrey L. Scudder relieved Cmdr. Anthony Lesperance as USS Thach commanding officer.
Lesperance had commanded the ship since Sept. 2009.
"Each crew member has added an important building block to make this ship the finest in the Pacific Fleet," said Lesperance. "I have been very proud and honored to serve alongside you."
Scudder spoke about assuming command at the start of a six-month deployment.
"I look forward to leading the crew on the Southern Seas deployment," said Scudder. "This deployment is well suited for Thach, as it will run the ship through a series of exercises with our partners in South and Central America. The events are designed to enhance and demonstrate our commitment to the transnational challenges in the Western Hemisphere, which require cooperative action with and among the nations of the Americas."
During the deployment, Thach will also work closely with partner nations in the region.
"This deployment is an excellent opportunity for our young Sailors to rapidly gain experience as we will be operating in a multinational setting," said USS Thach Command Senior Chief Joshua Gabriel.
Thach plans to carry out community relationship projects in the ports they visit.
"These projects are a great opportunity for Sailors to gain insight into the countries that we are visiting," said Chief Electronics Technician James Jacobs, USS Thach community relations coordinator. "While it may be the first time that some Sailors have been out of the U.S., it is important they understand the positive impact they can have by helping out."
The purpose of the Southern Seas 2011 mission is to strengthen relationships with regional partner nations, while improving operational readiness for all of the participating units. Thach will take part in UNITAS Atlantic phase, UNITAS Pacific phase, and PANAMAX—exercises that are designed to improve relationships with regional partners while promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the U.S. 4th Fleet (C4F) area of responsibility.
COMUSNAVSO/C4F supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.