USS Ronald Reagan changes command

Capt. Michael Donnelly, commanding officer of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), speaks during the ship's change of command ceremony. Photo: US Navy

U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) has changed command.

After two years of service, the current commanding officer, Capt. Christopher Bolt was relieved by Capt. Michael Donnelly during a change of command ceremony in the ship’s hangar bay, April 12.

During Bolt’s tenure from July 2013 to April 2016, Ronald Reagan earned the 2013 Chief of Naval Operations Safety and Environmental Award and three consecutive Retention Excellence Awards.

In 2015, Reagan completed an 8-month Planned Incremental Availability on time, marking the first time in more than eight years that an aircraft carrier finished PIA on schedule. Bolt’s leadership was instrumental during a hull swap with USS George Washington (CVN 73), which brought 3,000 newly combined ship’s company to Yokosuka, Japan, last summer.

Rear Adm. John D. Alexander, commander, Task Force (CTF) 70, commended Bolt’s leadership and the crew’s performance under his command.

“USS Ronald Reagan, led by Capt. Bolt, performed exceptionally throughout the three (carrier) hull swap, Ronald Reagan’s first deployment as the only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, and multiple engagements with our partners and allies around the region,” said Alexander. “He brought great leadership to the crew and effectively managed every task that was sent his way.”

Bolt’s successor, Donnelly, assumed command after previously serving as the commanding officer of USS Denver (LPD 9) and the executive officer of USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Donnelly graduated from Villanova University in 1989 with more than 3,000 flight hours and 990 carrier landings in F-14 A, B and D and F/A-18F aircraft.

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