Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater officially took over the reins of the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in a time honored change of command ceremony on board the ship while pierside at Naval Base San Diego, July 25.
Command of LCS Crew 104, known as the Juggernauts and currently “on hull” aboard Forth Worth, passed from Cmdr. Hank Kim to Bridgewater who “fleeted up” as commanding officer.
Littoral combat ships have rotational crews which allow the ship to maintain a high operational tempo without burning out a single crew.
Kim took the ship and crew from the shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, through commissioning, drydock, and operational testing, to deployment workups. Under his command, Fort Worth was selected to host China’s Chief of Naval Operations for a rare at-sea visit demonstrating the ship’s modularity, shallow draft, and sprint speeds in excess of 40 knots.
Fort Worth completed milestone program testing culminating the successful engagement of multiple high speed attack crafts using the surface warfare mission package at the Point Mugu Test Range. Fort Worth is scheduled to depart later this year on the ship’s maiden deployment.
Kim acknowledged the Fort Worth “team” comprised of Sailors and staff from Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, LCS Squadron One, Program Executive Office, other LCS crews, as well as his own crew in the successes during his tenure.
“Having such a small crew, and having had to do so much with so few, you can’t help but feel like a family,” said Kim. “I am immensely proud of what the Sailors got done.”
Kim’s next assignment will be as an Assistant Chief of Staff at the Navy Surface Warfare Development Center in San Diego.
Bridgewater hails from Carrollton, Illinois, and first enlisted in the Army from 1985 to 1989 as a cannon crewman in the 1st Armored and 101st Divisions. He was commissioned through officer candidate school after graduating from Lindenwood College in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management. He’s served on board USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), USS McFaul (DDG 74), Destroyer Squadron 21, and has previous LCS experience as officer-in-charge of one of the first LCS Anti-Submarine Warfare Detachment.
USS Fort Worth is the second ship of the LCS Freedom variant and the first ship to bear the name of the city of Fort Worth, Texas. Fort Worth currently has the surface warfare mission package embarked, one of three swappable mission packages which also include anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare capabilities.
Press Release, July 28, 2014; Image: Wikimedia