CHANGI, Singapore (NNS) — The Sailors of Carrier Strike Group 3 bid farewell to their leader during a change of command ceremony, April 22.
Rear Adm. Ron Boxall was relieved by Rear Adm. Marcus Hitchcock as commander, CSG3 during a ceremony on the flight deck of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in front of distinguished visitors, guests and crew.
Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, the ceremony’s guest speaker and presiding officer, presented Boxall with the Legion of Merit.
“The highest levels of our uniformed and civilian leadership depend on this strike group to be ready to successfully accomplish any mission it is asked to,” said Tyson. “There should be no doubt that this strike group plays a critical role in our nation’s defense and in our collective regional security. During some very challenging times, we are extremely fortunate that this team has been led by Ron Boxall.”
Boxall, who will report to the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) for his next assignment, thanked the crew for their hard work during his tour, and expressed every confidence in Hitchcock taking over.
“The most rewarding aspect of this tour has been the opportunity to take the strike group from the maintenance and training phase to a fully integrated and deployed fighting force,” said Boxall. “From an operational standpoint, having command of ships and aircraft in a carrier strike group is as good as it gets at this level. Seeing us conduct relevant operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific has been more fulfilling than I could have ever hoped for.”
During Boxall’s time in command, CSG3 has traveled nearly 70,000 nautical miles. Under his leadership, the strike group has successfully executed full-spectrum missions in both 3rd Fleet and 7th Fleet. Some of these exercises included: Oceania Maritime Security Initiative supporting U.S. and Pacific Island Nations (PIN) fisheries laws in the Western Pacific, Maritime Counter Special Operations Force Exercise, Balikatan 2016, Multilateral Naval Exercise Komodo 2016, and numerous bilateral engagements with the Republic of Korea Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Boxall led the departure of the Great Green Fleet, the first carrier strike group to deploy using a blend of advanced biofuel and marine diesel, along with other energy saving initiatives. Working up to deployment, he oversaw the completion of the fleet response training plan which included flight deck certification, tailored ship’s training availability, composite training unit exercise, joint task force exercise, and sustainment exercise. Since deploying, air assets under his charge have generated over 10,708 fixed-wing aircraft sorties, 9,924 aircraft traps and accumulated over 21,931 flight hours.
Hitchcock has previously served as executive officer of John C. Stennis and commanded “The Swordsmen” of Fighter Squadron (VF) 32, USS Peleliu (LHA 5), and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).
“After almost nine years, I am privileged to return to Carrier Strike Group 3, this time as commander,” said Hitchcock. “I am very impressed with every Sailor in the group, from those working on the deckplates below the water line to those flying overhead. Everyone knows their purpose and works to achieve our mission.”
Currently deployed, the John C. Stennis Strike Group consists of John C. Stennis with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron 21 embarked, guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).
CVW-9 consists of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133 and Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 14, 41, 97 and 151.
CSG3 is comprised of the units making up JCSSG and also includes independent deployers: guided-missile destroyers USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Momsen (DDG 92), and USS Spruance (DDG 111).
Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, JCSSG is operating as the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.