SAN DIEGO – The guided missile frigate USS Gary (FFG 51) conducted a change of command ceremony while in homeport at Naval Base San Diego, Nov. 22.
Cmdr. Steven R. McDowell, a native of Millbrook, N.Y., relived Cmdr. James E. Brown, a Las Vegas native, as commanding officer of Gary during a ceremony on the pier.
During Brown’s tenure as commanding officer, the ship completed a full training cycle in 2012, participated in the 2012 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, completed a seven-month deployment to Central and South America in support of Operation Martillo and other U.S. 4th Fleet missions, and completed a Navy Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) assessment last month.
Brown was also awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during the ceremony. His next assignment will be as reactor officer for USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
McDowell is a 1993 graduate of Brockport University and received his commission through officer candidate school in 1997 following an initial enlistment as a Navy intelligence specialist on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
His previous sea duty assignments include serving as the executive officer of USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), combat system officer for USS Cape St. George (CG 71), combat system officer for USS Nicholas (FFG 47), fire control officer for USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and information systems officer for USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20).
FFG 51 is named after the late Cmdr. Donald Arthur Gary, a former enlisted Sailor and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who is credited with helping to save the lives of more than 250 members of the crew aboard USS Franklin (CV 13) during World War II. As a young lieutenant serving as Franklin’s engineering officer, Gary led the crew in damage control efforts and saved the ship after being attached by Japanese bombers March 19, 1945.