170509-N-VV532-002 2 SAN DIEGO (May 9, 2017) Sailors from USS Montgomery (LCS 8) Crew Gold stand in formation during an exchange of command ceremony held on board the ship. During the ceremony, Montgomery Blue relieved Montgomery Gold and assumed command of the ship. Montgomery recently completed Final Contract Trials and several Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trial events. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician First Class Adam Ross/Released)
USS Montgomery Holds Exchange of Command

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8) Gold Crew was relieved by Montgomery Blue Crew during an exchange of command ceremony at Naval Base San Diego, May 9.

Cmdr. Mark Stefanik, commanding officer of Montgomery Gold from Tehachapi, California, turned over command of the Independence variant ship to Cmdr. Wayne Liebold, commanding officer of Montgomery Blue from Leesburg, Georgia.

The exchange of command ceremony marked the end of Montgomery Gold's six month rotation aboard Montgomery. During its rotation, the crew of approximately 70 Sailors completed Final Contract Trials. In addition, the crew conducted several events as part of the Combat System Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT), along with testing and integration of the MQ-8C Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

"Montgomery Blue has worked incredibly hard over the last few months, and we are excited to rotate back on-hull," said Liebold. "Montgomery Gold deserves a break after Final Contract Trials and CSSQT execution. We are trained, rested, and ready to bring the ship into the yard for Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) over the next few months."

USS Montgomery Blue Crew rotated back on-hull as part of the blue/gold concept of two crews per littoral combat ship. The crew will be taking Montgomery through its PSA this summer.

PSA is designed to harness results of a thorough test and evaluation period and pave the way to operational employment by the Navy. It is the last availability in the ship construction period and required repairs identified during CSSQT and FCT are made using contractor and program office money.

"I am pleased that Montgomery Blue and Gold crews continue to demonstrate the power of the LCS blue/gold construct, and we were able to conduct a quick and thorough turnover of our ship, even while beginning the PSA," said Stefanik. "Gold Crew was successful in leading the ship though various CSSQT events and Final Contract Trials, and looks forward to assisting Blue Crew through PSA and Light Off Assessment."

Montgomery Gold moved off ship and will use the off-hull time for crew rest, training, and recertification prior to rotating back on-hull.

"I'm excited to bring the ship into PSA. It will make her into the finest ship in the Navy - ready for deployment," said Lt. j.g. John Gregory, Montgomery Gold's electronics material officer. Gregory is a native of Lynchburg, Tennessee and is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the ship's combat systems electronics suite and the total ship computing environment.

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