The amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) conducted a change of command ceremony in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, June 1.
Cmdr. Sean Burke, a native of Angola, N.Y., relieved Capt. Timothy C. Kuehhas, a Sayville, N.Y. native, as commanding officer of USS Gunston Hall during a ceremony at sea.
As part of the event, Deputy Commander, Amphibious Squadron 6, Capt. Todd A. Lewis served as the guest speaker.
“The job that Capt. Kuehhas has done throughout his time aboard Gunston Hall is truly beyond any expectation,” said Lewis. “I want to extend the gratitude of the entire Bataan Amphibious Ready Group. Your work and leadership will not be soon forgotten, fair winds and following seas.”
Under Kuehhas’ command, Gunston Hall conducted operations in a wide range of environments and demonstrated her ability to provide quick land and maritime support to multiple areas of responsibility around the globe. Kuehhas guided Gunston Hall in the completion of a full training cycle in preparation for her 2014 deployment and through the first four months of deployment.
“The level of professionalism and performance the crew of Gunston Hall has displayed during my time as Captain cannot be put into words,” Kuehhas said. “I will always look back fondly at my time here.
Lewis presented Kuehhas with his fifth Meritorious Service Medal, citing Gunston Hall’s outstanding marks in all inspections and exercises, as well as the crew’s exemplary performance and professionalism during his time as commanding officer. Kuehhas is the prospective commanding officer of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).
Gunston Hall will welcome a familiar face as Kuehhas hands over command to his executive officer. Burke’s time spent aboard ship as part of the Navy’s Executive Officer to Commanding Officer Fleet-Up program will serve him well as he prepares to lead the ship and her crew into the future.
“I am familiar with this crew and all the great things they’ve been able to accomplish,” said Burke. “That’s what makes this so exciting. The responsibilities and pressures of a commanding officer will be eased knowing I have this crew behind me, and that I have learned some valuable lessons from working with Capt. Kuehhas.”
Burke is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy receiving his commission in 1997. Some of Burke’s previous duties have included instructor duty at the U.S. Naval Academy, training officer on board amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), aide-de-camp to Gen. James Conway, the 34th commandant of the Marine Corps, and Congressional liaison for the office of the Under Secretary of the Navy, for appropriations matters.
Gunston Hall is currently on her 13th deployment. The 610 ft. warship was commissioned April 22, 1989. Her crew consists of 30 officers, 22 chief petty officers and 250 enlisted Sailors, and she carries a landing force of more than 350 Marines.
Gunston Hall is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, and with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Press Release, June 04, 2014; Image: Wikimedia