SAN DIEGO - Capt. Michael McKenna relieved Cmdr. Joel Stewart as Commanding Officer aboard San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) during a change of command ceremony, August 15.
"To the Sailors and Marines of Anchorage; shipmates, it has been an honor and the greatest professional achievement of my professional career to serve as your captain,” said Stewart. “Be proud of what you have built here on Anchorage. Thank you for your sacrifice, dedication and camaraderie. I salute you.”
Stewart, a plankowner of Anchorage, began his tour as Anchorage’s executive officer and commissioned the ship in Anchorage, Alaska May 13, 2013. During his tenure, Anchorage completed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Forum, Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2014, Underway Recovery Test (URT-2) for NASA's Orion Program, and a port visit to San Pedro, Calif. for LA Navy Days.
“To the Sailors and Marines of Anchorage on the deckplates, in the chiefs’ mess, and in the wardroom; it is obvious that you have been led superbly by Captain Stewart and you have enjoyed under his visionary leadership. I am pleased but never surprised when I hear how well Anchorage is performing. You make that happen. You are the ship,” said Capt. Clinton Carroll, commander, Amphibious Squadron 3. “Capt. McKenna, you have been trained and selected to serve in our Navy’s most hallowed and trusted position. Now it is your time, your turn to prepare, mentor, hone, and lead. I have no doubt you will continue to ensure combat readiness for Anchorage and all who sail her, and you will find success at every opportunity presented.”
McKenna, a native of Missoula, Mont., attended Aviation Officer Candidate School through the Naval Aviation Cadet program in 1987. He was designated a Naval Aviator and commissioned an ensign in 1989 at Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss.
“I feel very fortunate to be standing here today as a naval aviator, commanding a warship at sea. It is a tremendous honor,” said Anchorage Commanding Officer, Capt. McKenna.
McKenna’s tours of duty include USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, and U.S. Northern Command. He commanded VAQ-129 and VAQ-141. He was selected for major command in 2009 and served as USS Ronald Reagan’s executive officer from 2012-2014.
Anchorage is currently in a cycle of pre-deployment training exercises to prepare the ship and crew for a deployment in 2015.
Anchorage was built at the Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding site in Avondale, Louisiana and is the seventh San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. Delivered to the U.S. Navy on Sept. 17, 2012, the ship was commissioned on May 4, 2013 in the namesake city of Anchorage, Alaska.