SASEBO, Japan - USS Ashland (LSD 48) held a change of command ceremony Jan. 17 in front of a star-studded audience that included U.S. and Japanese senior officials.
Cmdr. Douglas A. Patterson relieved Cmdr. John J. Barnett as Ashland commanding officer. Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Hugh D. Wetherald, presided over the event.
The ceremony brought to a close a successful 19-month command tour for Barnett. During his time as Commanding Officer of both USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and USS Ashland (LSD 48) he has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, four times, the Navy Achievement Medal, two times, and various unit and campaign awards.
"I am absolutely thrilled to have had the opportunity to command this fine ship and to have served with some of the finest sailors," said Barnett. "These sailors have answered the call every time and have done so in an absolutely superb and professional manner. It’s been my pleasure to have been able to serve alongside them."
Barnett's next assignment will be as to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) following a joint professional military education course.
Patterson, a prior Engineman 1st Class selected to Naval Officer Candidate School in 1996, has held several high-profile leadership positions, including Engineering Officer onboard USS Germantown (LSD 42), Deputy Director of Engineering Assessments at Afloat Training Group Pacific and Combined Task Force 33’s Scheduling Officer.
"It is my honor to take command of this specific crew. I am humbled to be your Captain," said Patterson. "My only goal is to keep pace with you, and lead you to the operational excellence you deserve and are more than capable of demonstrating. Rear Adm. Wetherald, Sir, I proudly take command of your most accomplished and proficient amphibious crew."
Ashland, which returned in November from the Philippines in support of Operation Damayan relief efforts is part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group.