SAN DIEGO – The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) held a change of command ceremony on the flight deck July 2 where Capt. Wayne R. Brown relieved Capt. John E. Gumbleton as commanding officer.
Commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific Fleet, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, presided over the ceremony and presented Gumbleton with a Legion of Merit for his exceptional service as commanding officer.
“This is a big day for you [Capt. Gumbleton], each change of command commemorates and keeps alive our heritage with a peaceful transfer of power between two very well qualified officers.” said Copeman. “Everyone here is witnessing this small piece of the continuation of command when, without bloodshed, one commander relinquishes control of a mighty warship to another and I think it’s a beautiful thing.”
Under Gumbleton’s leadership, Boxer recently completed a successful eight month deployment to the U.S. Fifth and Seventh Fleet areas of responsibility. The ship was also awarded the Retention Excellence Award for outstanding retention during 2013 for a second consecutive year along with the Battle “E” award for a third consecutive year in 2013. Boxer also won the 2013 Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund award upon arrival home from the deployment this year, recognizing it the best warship in the Pacific fleet and the 2013 SECNAV Safety Award. Gumbleton’s next assignment is at Chief of Naval Operations, Strategic Studies Group in Newport, R.I.
“I came to a realization that in order to achieve mission success I would have to build a cultured foundation for all of us to be a part of; a culture of by-the-book adherence, a culture of empowering your people, a culture of self-reliance and self-sufficiency,” said Gumbleton. “I stand here before you today humble and proud of you all.”
Brown complimented Gumbleton’s ability to command the ship and its crew. He spoke to friends, family and Boxer’s crew about what they could expect in the ship’s future.
“I am truly humbled to be given the privilege to serve such a hard working, professional and ambitious command that always met every challenge head on with a sense of pride,” said Brown. “It has been a pleasure to work with Capt. John Gumbleton for the last 19 months and I especially will be sad to see him leave. Thanks for your leadership and dedication to the crew and your trust in me to execute your vision.”
Copeman welcomed Brown to his new position prior to the reading of orders.
“You’re getting a great ship turned over to you that have done some great things so far. It takes a good crew to come this far and be this successful,” said Copeman.
Boxer returned from deployment in April and is now undergoing a maintenance availability at Naval Base San Diego.