The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) held a change of command ceremony at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, July 26.
Capt. Ron Reis was relieved by Capt. Michael Wettlaufer in the ceremony, which was held in the dry dock in front of the ship’s starboard bow.
Rear Adm. Herman Shelanski, the senior military advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the guest speaker at the ceremony, commended Reis for his exceptional performance.
“My dear friend, not surprisingly, has come so far and done so well,” said Shelanski. “You did it with great audacity and with great relentless drive. Most importantly you did it with style and always with dignity and respect towards your crew.”
Since assuming command of Stennis in February 2011, Reis led the crew through two combat deployments to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. Under Reis’s command, Stennis won the 2012 Ramage award for carrier-air wing operational excellence, as well as multiple aircraft carrier departmental awards.
Reis praised the Stennis crew for supporting the nation’s call through two consecutive deployments.
“It has been my distinct pleasure to command the Navy’s finest warship,” said Reis. “To the Stennis crew, Bravo Zulu for all you do for your country every day.”
During the ceremony, Reis, who will retire after 28 years of naval service, was presented with the Legion of Merit Medal and a replica of the ship’s commissioning pennant for his performance as the commanding officer from February 2011 to July 2013.
After orders were read and salutes were rendered, Capt. Wettlaufer officially assumed the title of commanding officer.
Wettlaufer previously served as executive officer aboard Stennis from 2009 to 2011 and most recently served as commanding officer of the Austin-class amphibious transport dock USS Denver (LPD 9).
“Thank you [Reis] for turning over a fine ship and a fine crew,” said Wettlaufer. “Our nation is depending on us and this is the right team to make it happen. Let’s get it done.”
Stennis is currently undergoing a Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA) maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.
Press Release, July 30, 2013