SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Commander Matthew Foster relieved Cmdr. Richard Robbins as commanding officer of guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) during a change of command ceremony held April 6 on board Russell in San Diego.
The guest speaker was Capt. Tom Williams, director of the Sea Combat Division at the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, and former commander of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 to which Russell is assigned.
“Looking around today, it is clear that under captain Robbins’ leadership the crew is even stronger than the day they pulled into the shipyard,” said Williams. “I have never met a more even keeled, positive leader, who cared about his ship and crew as deeply.”
Robbins was the ship’s executive officer throughout her independent seven-month deployment to U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operations. He took command shortly after the ship entered a selected restricted availability (SRA) maintenance period in October 2016. He has led the ship and crew through numerous repairs, returning Russell to the fleet and ready to begin her next deployment cycle.
Robbins thanked friends, family, and the crew for their support during his time with Russell.
"It has been my distinct honor to serve with the Russell,” said Robbins. “This ship is the best on the waterfront, and it is due to its outstanding crew. I will greatly miss my time aboard this remarkable ship.”
During the ceremony, Robbins, who will continue his naval service at Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal for his performance as commanding officer from October 2016 to April 2018.
Foster officially assumed the title and responsibilities as Russell's commanding officer after reading his orders and exchanging salutes with Robbins.
Foster served as Russell's executive officer from September 2016 to January 2018. His previous tours include USS Mount Vernon (LSD 39), USS Anzio (CG 69), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), and Patrol Coastal Ship command. Additionally, he completed multiple Pentagon tours on the staffs of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff. Foster thanked family and friends for attending and singled out Robbins for his superb leadership and service to Russell. He also spoke to the crew.
"Russell Officers, Chiefs, and Crew - I bore first-hand witness to your effort and success over the past 21 months,” said Foster. “I consider it the honor of my career to return as your commanding officer and serve alongside you. I promise I will earn this job every day. Strength in Freedom.”
Russell will remain in San Diego for the immediate future and is currently preparing to commence her pre-deployment training cycle.
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