SAN DIEGO - Capt. Douglas Verissimo relieved Cmdr. D. Michael Ray as commanding officer of the based amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) during a change-of-command ceremony held aboard the ship in San Diego, May 30.
Those on hand for the occasion as special guests included Rear Adm. Frank L. Ponds, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, and Capt. Malcolm Potts, Commander, Amphibious Squadron.
During the ceremony, Ray told the crew what a great job they had done, and how honored he was to have been their commanding officer.
“I would not, could not, have succeeded without the hard work and tenacious determination of this amazing crew," said Ray. "From the wardroom, to the chief’s mess, and all the way down to my seaman recruits, it was your effort, your desire to excel made my tour so rewarding and our ship such an overwhelming success. Thank you, Sailors of New Orleans."
Ray remarked that the job of being the commanding officer of New Orleans was the highlight of his career.
“Everything I asked, they did,” said Ray. “And not just adequately, they always exceeded expectations.”
Ray then proceeded to read his new orders and relinquish command to Verissimo, who followed by reading his orders to assume the role as New Orleans's sixth commanding officer.
"As clearly noted Mike [Ray] has poured his heart and soul into this place," said Verissimo. "Having to relieve Cmdr. Ray is going to be a challenge for me, when you’ve been around in the Navy as long as I have you can tell some things about a command and it’s Sailors pretty quickly. After stepping onboard here I looked for some easy fixes I felt I could improve here, I haven’t found any."
Ray's next assignment will be at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland as a Battalion Officer Instructor.
Verissimo comes to New Orleans following a tour as Joint Staff J35, where he served as Joint Force Coordination Division Chief after serving as the Executive Officer aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).