YOKOSUKA, Japan - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) held a change of command ceremony Oct. 28.
Capt. Richard McCormack relieved Capt. Will Pennington as commanding officer. Pennington served as commanding officer from July 31, 2012 to Oct. 28, 2013.
"My time aboard Blue Ridge has been a unique experience," said Pennington. "The co-existence between embarked staff and ship's company has been outstanding. Cooperating through exercises and normal day-to-day activities has made my job as the commanding officer very easy and fun to do. I am sad to go, but I am confident in my relief. To the crew of Blue Ridge, it has been a great honor and a pleasure."
Pennington ensured reliability of all satellite and network systems in support of multinational military exercises to include: Talisman Sabre 2013, Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2012 and 2013, Key Resolve 2013 and Silent Banshee 2013.
At the helm, Pennington safely steamed Blue Ridge for more than 25,000 nautical miles and 19 port calls in nine nations strengthening the relationship and trust with vital partners in the region. He proficiently managed a 13-week, $13 million selected restricted availability with more than 52,000 man-hours of work while continually maintaining 7th Fleet's mission capability.
During the ceremony, the keynote speaker, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, showcased the numerous accomplishments of Pennington and crew which contributed to the ship's success during the past 15 months.
"To Capt. Pennington and Blue Ridge crew: while I am still relatively new on this great ship, I can say your performance as captain and crew has lead to an outstanding year for 2013," said Thomas. "I am excited to have Captain McCormack come aboard and look forward to a great year in 2014."
Pennington's next duty station will be Naval Air Forces Atlantic in Norfolk, Va.
McCormack, a native of Canyon Country, Calif., graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Oceanography.
"What a great crew," said McCormack. "It is truly an honor to be able to command such a fine crew."
McCormack assumes command of Blue Ridge after serving as the executive officer aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).
McCormack is the 26th commanding officer of the Blue Ridge since the ship's commissioning Nov. 14, 1970.
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, for 34 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Blue Ridge is instrumental in maintaining partnerships in the region while leading the fleet with its advanced shipboard communications systems.