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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Ebarb
USS ESSEX, Philippine Sea – Capt. Troy Hart relieved Capt. Brent Canady as commanding officer of the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) at a change of command ceremony August 13.

Hart takes command after serving as the ship’s executive officer. He said that position gives him a significant advantage in the transition to commanding officer.

"The biggest benefit is in already knowing the crew. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the various individuals and groups involved is a huge advantage," Hart said. "The Wardroom, CPO Mess and crew already know me as well, so they know what I expect and that allows us to start off on the same page, firing on all cylinders from day one."

Hart, a native of Lansing, Mich., graduated from Auburn University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and received his commission through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards) and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards) as well as various unit and campaign awards.

Hart's previous assignments include executive officer of USS Ogden (LPD 5) and USS Bataan (LHD 5) and as the commanding officer of USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), giving him prior experience at the head of a naval warship.

“It’s a real honor to be able to continue to be a part of the Essex team. The cooperation, coordination and teamwork this crew exhibits on a daily basis is truly amazing,” said Hart. ” Essex is a great ship with a proud crew and rich history of success and I look forward to us building on that as we strive together to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”

Canady assumed command of Essex February 4, 2008. During his tenure, he led the crew through several multinational exercises and efforts to assist Burma after cyclone Nargis displaced millions and killed almost 300,000 people in May 2008.

"The Sailors and Marines assigned to Essex have set the standard for sustained superior operations, not only in the FDNF, but also in the United States Navy," said Canady. “Having had the opportunity to command this great ship is truly a dream come true.”

Canady, who was awarded the Legion of Merit during the ceremony, has accumulated over 3,600 flight hours in the H-3 Sea King and H-60 Sea Hawk helicopters.

Essex is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. Amphibious Ready Group and serves as the flagship for CTF 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force commander. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
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