SAN DIEGO – Cmdr. Tammy Royal officially relieved Cmdr. Jon Rigby as commanding officer of dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) during a change of command ceremony on the flight deck of USS Midway Museum, Mar. 9.
During the ceremony, Rigby read his orders and transferred command to Royal, who read her orders, assumed command, and addressed the audience as Commanding Officer of Harpers Ferry for the first time.
“I am excited to be your new commanding officer,” Royal told her new crew. She revealed her priorities include safety, professionalism and responsibility. “It is my responsibility to give you the tools, training and time and to be able to trust you to go out and do your job properly.”
“(Royal), welcome aboard and strap in for a thrilling ride leading the Sailors and Marines of LSD 49” said Commander, Amphibious Squadron One, Capt. Patrick Foege, guest speaker of the ceremony.
Rigby, who will continue his naval carreer at the Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, told the crew that they are in good hands. “I have known (Royal) for a long time. Apart from serving with her on several occasions, we even sat next to each other during the prospective commanding officer course. She will take good care of you,” he assured.
Capt. Foege said in his remarks that Rigby always says his amazing individual accomplishment as a CO were only made possible by the group efforts of the many teams. “(Rigby), your leadership building those teams has been absolutely inspiring,” he said, before proceeding to decorate him with the Meritorious Service Medal from the President of the United States for outstanding service from Apr. 2014 to Feb. 2017.
Rigby led Harpers Ferry through the successful 2016 deployment that saw the execution of 24 amphibious operations; 299 aircraft landings; six visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) boardings; 145 small boat operations; and 387 volunteer hours of work during eight port visits. Under his leadership, the ship won several awards including the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Energy and Water Management Award and Best Ship's Store (LSD Class) Retail and Services Excellence Award.
“I going to miss him,” said Boatswain Mate Seaman Benjamin Simpson, referring to Rigby. “He encouraged me to work harder each day when he introduced the Hard Charger of the Day Award.” The Hard Charger Award was given daily to Sailors and Marines who stood a cut above their peers during the 2016 seven-month Middle Eastern deployment.
As the new CO, Royal brings to Harpers Ferry a rich naval experience. She is the recipient of seven Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medals, a Joint Achievement Medal and five Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medals. She initially served nine years as an enlisted electronics technician before being commissioned as an Ensign in 2000 through the enlisted to commissioning program.
The Columbus, Georgia native is not a stranger to the LSD class of ships. Royal began her sea tour with USS Rushmore (LSD 47) in San Diego as the communication officer, then chief engineer with USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) in Norfolk, Virginia.