Both James T. Kirk and James A. Kirk were commanders of a super-advanced ‘ship’. The former was at the helm of starship USS Enterprise while the latter commanded the U.S. Navy most modern destroyer, the USS Zumwalt.
During a change of command ceremony in San Diego, California, Capt. James A. Kirk was relieved by Capt. Scott A. Tait as the commanding officer of USS Zumwalt. The ship’s two big guns, normally hidden away, extended out of the turrets like arms, gracing the ceremony.
In his introductory remarks, the guest speaker, Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, spoke to the work and care of captain and crew.
“From the beginning, Capt. Kirk was asked to do a lot with a little and this often wore on the crew and wore on his mind,” said Rowden. “I want to sincerely say that I recognize the depth of their sacrifices.”
The ship is named for Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, a former Chief of Naval Operations who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
“He reformed the Navy as both a fighting force, to ensure it remained the preeminent sea power, and as an institution, demanding of his beloved Navy that it become a shining example of fairness and justice to the nation it served,” said Kirk during his remarks at the change of command. “We who serve aboard the ship that bears his name are the custodians of that legacy.”
In an interview, Ann Zumwalt, Adm. Zumwalt’s daughter, said that her father was himself named for Saint Elmo, the patron saint of sailors. She then described an incident that demonstrated that the legacy was already being well cultivated.
“I’m not sure if you aware of the ship’s first sea trial, but there was a fishing boat captain who was having heart issues who the Coast Guard could not rescue via helicopter,” she said. “So, the Coast Guard radioed for nearby ships and Capt. Kirk, Zumwalt’s captain, said they were near and could help get the fishing boat captain…”
The ship’s new commander said nothing could have been accomplished without all the individuals and organizations who worked to get Zumwalt built, commissioned, and to it’s homeport of San Diego. He then went on to express his gratitude for the crew and Kirk.
“I could not be more excited, or feel more blessed, to be leading this incredible team through this unique chapter in our Navy’s history,” Tait said. “That next chapter would not be possible if not for the effort that has gone into bringing Zumwalt to her current state. Words cannot express my gratitude, or my admiration, for the ship and crew that Capt. Kirk is turning over.”
Kirk also expressed his appreciation of the ship’s crew during his speech.
“This is a more seasoned crew both older and more senior than other ships,” he said. “Some have spent much of the last three years away from their families. Some uprooted their families to Maine. To spend a year or two that turned into three.”
“These 147 Sailors tamed this beast, completed all crew certification requirements, and sailed down the Kennebec River into open water on the seventh of September.”
Kirk will report to Surface Warfare (OPNAV N96) in the Pentagon for his next tour of duty while the USS Zumwalt will soon begin installation of her combat systems, testing and evaluation, and operational integration with the fleet.