Carl Vinson Holds Change of Command Ceremony At Sea

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Story Number: NNS140902-01Release Date: 9/2/2014 5:34:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James P. Bleyle USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Public Affairs

USS CARL VINSON, At Sea - (NNS) -- Capt. Kent D. Whalen was relieved by Capt. Karl O. Thomas as commanding officer of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during a change of command ceremony Sept. 1 off the coast of Hawaii.

Rear Adm. Christopher Grady, Commander, Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, presided over the ceremony.

Before being relieved of command, Whalen thanked each of Carl Vinson's "Gold Eagle Warriors" for their unwavering dedication to the Navy's mission by getting the ship ready to deploy on time.

"Trying to get nearly 2,800 people moving toward the same goal is a leadership challenge," Whalen said. "I certainly would not have been able to accomplish that without being blessed with a tremendous team of Sailors."

Grady presented Whalen with the Legion of Merit during the ceremony for his "...exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer." Carl Vinson completed a Western Pacific and Middle East deployment under Whalen, followed with the on-time completion of a six-month Planned Incremental Availability. The ship earned a 98 percent final assessment during Carl Vinson's Final Evaluation Phase (FEP) prior to deployment.

During Whalen's tour, Carl Vinson safely steamed over 120,000 nautical miles and operated in 3 different naval fleet areas of responsibility. Leading up to FEP, Whalen led the ship through the completion of 4,000 fixed-wing launches and recoveries, 38 replenishments-at-sea, and weapons and ammunition onloads exceeding two million pounds.

After official orders were read, Thomas assumed all duties and responsibilities as commanding officer and addressed his new crew for the first time.

"It is a great honor to be here, deployed for the fourth time in my career aboard 'America's Favorite Carrier'," Thomas said. "This crew has been training for over the past year and I look forward to seeing that hard work pay off in the near future."

Prior to assuming command, Capt. Thomas served as commanding officer aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

Capt. Whalen was recently selected for promotion to Rear Admiral and will report to Joint Allied Forces Command in Naples, Italy.

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