USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) held a change of command ceremony at sea in the Arabian Gulf, Feb. 29.
Capt. Cedric E. Pringle relieved Capt. Jim Landers as commanding officer. Pringle becomes the ship's third commanding officer since commissioning in 2009.
For the past 18 months, Pringle had served as the ship's executive officer and played a major role in ensuring the ship was ready for deployment before 'fleeting up' to fill the role of commanding officer.
"This is truly a dream come true," said Pringle after assuming command. "This dream started about 25 years ago on the deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier as a young bootcamp ensign trying to get my SWO [surface warfare officer] quals."
Pringle spoke about the variety of jobs he has held as a naval officer, including almost 20 years of working with Marines; which has helped him prepare to command an amphibious assault ship.
"When I left as the commanding officer of USS Whidbey Island, I only prayed for one job and that job was commanding officer of USS Makin Island," said Pringle.
During his speech, Pringle stressed that while command of Makin Island did change the continuity of leadership, the ability to conduct successful operations in the dynamic 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) did not.
"Our operational leadership has trusted us that we are in a position where we can transition leadership and still continue our current mission," said Pringle.
Col. Michael Hudson, commanding officer of the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, presented Landers with his end of tour award during the ceremony.
"I am humbled to be a MAGTF [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] commander, but I am even more humbled to have served on this ship under your leadership," Hudson told Landers during the ceremony.
Hudson spoke about how Landers' strong leadership helped to bring the Makin Island blue and green team together during pre-deployment workups and how that strong leadership continued on the current deployment.
"It was an honor to serve with you on USS Makin Island on her first deployment," Hudson added.
Landers's next assignment will be as operations officer (N3) on the staff of Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
His numerous accomplishments aboard Makin Island include taking the ship through sea trials, passing special sea trials by the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey, completing the first Composite Training Unit Exercise and leading the ship on its maiden deployment to U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet AORs.
Landers had also previously served 11 months as the ship's executive officer before assuming command Aug. 27, 2010.
"Now looking back over the time from then to now, I can state with absolute certainty that the officers, chiefs and Sailors of 'Team Raider' delivered; exceeding my expectations of excellence," said Landers. "You rose to every challenge, and today you stand victorious on the ash head of devoured insurmountable challenges."
Landers thanked his family, department heads, wardroom, chief petty officers mess and the Sailors and Marines aboard Makin Island who helped make his command tour a success.
"Shipmates, thank you for doing what you do every day for this ship, our Navy and our nation," said Landers. "May god continue to bless this ship and all who sail in her."
Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR.