PEARL HARBOR - The Navy's first littoral combat ship's Blue Crew changed command during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam July 31.
Cmdr. Kristy D. Doyle ended more than five years of service with the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1), turning over command of Freedom's Blue Crew to Cmdr. James W. Edwards.
"I am very fortunate to have had the privilege to serve with and to lead Blue Crew," Doyle said. "It is these Sailors that make Freedom more than a fast ship. In idea and action, they have unleashed a new approach to mission accomplishment and the way we fight, live onboard, and maintain ships in the Navy's future fleet."
Freedom's commanding officer since March 2009, Doyle began her service with Freedom as Blue Crew executive officer at the ship's keel-laying in June 2005, continuing in that role through Freedom's christening and commissioning.
This summer, as Freedom's commanding officer, Doyle led the Blue Crew during the ship's participation in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010, the world's largest maritime exercise.
"Commander Doyle has expanded the boundaries of the possible for both the seaframe and what Sailors can do," said Edwards, who previously served as Doyle's executive officer. "I aim to exercise Freedom and the crew to their limits to expand on and validate the LCS concepts of operations."
The ceremony marked the third change of command in the history of Freedom, the nation's first littoral combat ship. Both of the ship's rotating crews, Blue and Gold, have held at least one change of command, the last coming when Cmdr. Randy Garner assumed command of the Gold Crew in 2009.
Following Freedom's commissioning on Nov. 8, 2008, Doyle served as executive officer during the ship's transit from Milwaukee, Wisc., to the East Coast in early 2009.
In March 2009, Doyle assumed command of Freedom from Capt. Don Gabrielson, Blue Crew's inaugural commanding officer. She would lead Blue Crew through months of testing and evaluating Freedom on the East Coast, preparing the ship for its first operational deployment under the Gold Crew in early 2010.
Once Freedom arrived in San Diego, Doyle and Blue Crew returned to the ship and sailed her to Hawaii to participate in RIMPAC 2010, marking the Littoral Combat Ship program's first international exercise.
Freedom operated with U.S. and international vessels during RIMPAC in varying scenarios ranging from surface warfare to maritime interdiction, confirming the interoperability of the LCS concept as well as its technologies.
"LCS is the 'Field of Dreams,'" said Doyle, who is slated to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C. "And when you put the amazing Sailors we have in today's Navy out on that field, I guarantee they will perform and innovate beyond all expectations. From my new seat in the bleachers, I am excited to watch Freedom's and the LCS program's continued success."
A native of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Edwards came to Freedom in March 2009 from U.S. Pacific Command, where he was the Command and Control Systems branch chief.
Previously, Edwards served as Reactor Electrical Assistant on the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), taught electrical engineering at the Naval Nuclear Power School in Charleston, S.C., and served as an Associate Professor at Boston University, teaching navigation at the Boston NROTC Consortium. His other sea tours include USS Jarrett (FFG 33), USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Philippine Sea (CG 58).
"It is a rare privilege to be the commanding officer of Freedom," Edwards said. "Having stood side by side with the Sailors of Freedom for the past year and a half as executive officer, I stand in awe at their reach, understanding and determination."
Edwards is the fifth commanding officer in the history of Freedom and the third to command the Blue Crew. He will be replaced as executive officer by Cmdr. Patrick Thien.
The first ship of the revolutionary LCS program, Freedom is a fast, agile, and maneuverable ship designed to compliment the Navy's larger multi-mission surface combatants in select mission areas, including combating submarines, mines, and fast-attack craft threats in the littorals.