The U.S. Navy’s Commander Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON) 50/Task Force (TF) 55 held a change of command ceremony onboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain, March 29.
Capt. Adan Cruz relieved Capt. Chase D. Patrick as commander of U.S. 5th Fleet’s TF 55. Vice Adm. Chris Aquilino, commander of U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F), presided over the ceremony and spoke of Patrick’s contributions in building partner capabilities and his service as an effective mentor.
“Working with every nation in the region, whether as a successful exercise, operation, or event — he excelled in every one of those roles”, said Aquilino. “Chase also has taken on the role of mentor for the surface warfare community. Building junior officers, O-4 commanding officers, and all the way through equivalent O-6 levels, shaping the surface warfare officer mindset from the warfighting mindset that exists today. “
Under Commodore Patrick’s command, Task Force 55 ships completed 42 Suez Canal transits, 23 Bab-el-Mandeb transits and 44 Strait of Hormuz transits. Patrick’s team also led bilateral and multilateral exercises including Eastern Sailor, Khunjar Haad, Gulf Shield, a U.S./Kuwait/Iraq trilateral surface exercise and a passing exercise with Egypt.
Aquilino expressed his appreciation for Patrick’s contributions to U.S. 5th Fleet during his speech.
“The challenge is always to leave the place better than when you took the job and you have absolutely done that and you should be proud,” said Aquilino. “I am proud to have been able to serve with you and proud to call you a friend.”
Patrick reported to TF 55 as deputy commodore in June 2016 and assumed command in April 2017.
“I would be hard-pressed to imagine a job that creates more daily job satisfaction that what we do out here,” said Patrick. “There is something really special about the people out here and what you all do. For everyone, the job will continue to get better and better for every level that you go to, and I encourage you to continue to compete… I will be here to help you to compete to wherever your potential takes you.“
Cruz arrived at DESRON 50 in March 2018 following service as the commissioning commanding officer of USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3). Cruz has prior experience with U.S. 5th Fleet operations. Previous tours saw Cruz serve as commanding officer USS Mason (DDG 87) during which he completed a strike group deployment to U.S. 5th Fleet and served as the flagship for the Combined Maritime Forces Counter Piracy Task Force (CTF 151). Cruz also served as director of future operations on the staff of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).
“For the members of the staff and task force, I have been impressed by your professionalism and work ethic and can see that the reputation that this task force enjoys around the Navy and Coast Guard is well deserved,” said Cruz. “I am excited and looking forward to working together as a team in carrying out our proud legacy and succesfully accomplishing the mission as part of the forward-deployed naval force.“
In closing remarks, Aquilino expressed his appreciation to TF 55.
“And lastly, for the men and women of Task Force 55/DESRON 50, you continue to make the region’s vital sea lanes safer every day,” said Aquilino. I can tell you there is nothing that keeps me up at night when it comes DESRON 50/Task Force 55 executing their responsibilities in this area of responsibility to execute the missions that General Votel gave me.”
DESRON 50/TF 55 conducts maritime security operations in support of regional security and stability. Its responsibilities include planning and executing a robust regional engagement program with coalition forces from Gulf Cooperation Council nations, Carrier Strike Group 50 and allied surface warfare assets deployed to the Arabian Gulf.
NAVCENT is responsible for approximately 2.5 million square miles of area including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea.
Lt. Paul J. Williams, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command