US Navy welcomes new 5th Fleet commander

Vice Adm. John Aquilino salutes side boys during a change of command ceremony for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)/U.S. 5th Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces. Photo: US Navy

Command of the US 5th Fleet naval forces changed hands in a September 19 ceremony at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

Vice Adm. John C. Aquilino relieved Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan as commander of naval forces in the central command area of responsibility.

Donegan has served as the NAVCENT/C5F/CMF (Combined Maritime Forces) commander since assuming command in Sep. 2015.

On any given day, he led more than 15,000 U.S. and coalition sailors, marines, coast guardsmen and civilians in the conduct of maritime security operations to ensure the free flow of commerce, to build and expand maritime partnerships, and deter potential adversaries in one of the world’s most critical maritime corridors.

Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said in his remarks that during Donegan’s tenure, his contributions had made his team better and had made CENTCOM better, helping make this part of the world a little safer for everyone.

“NAVCENT’s list of accomplishments over the past two years is long and distinguished. In a very dynamic and at times tense area of operations, the team here has performed magnificently time and time again,” said Votel.

During the ceremony, Donegan was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

His successor Aquilino comes to NAVCENT following his most recent tour as the deputy chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy. His previous flag assignments include serving as the director of Strategy and Policy (J5), U.S. Joint Forces Command; deputy director, Joint Force Coordinator (J31), the Joint Staff; commander of Carrier Strike Group 2; and director of Maritime Operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

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