USS John C. Stennis changes command ahead of homeport switch

US Navy file photo of USS John C. Stennis

US Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) welcomed a new commander ahead of the ship’s scheduled homeport change from Bremerton, Washington, to Norfolk, Virginia. 

The change of command ceremony was held in the hangar bay on August 3 and saw Capt. Randall W. Peck relieve Capt. Gregory C. Huffman at the helm of the aircraft carrier.

Guest speaker Congressman Gregg Harper, US Representative for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, praised Huffman on his accomplishments as commanding officer of John C. Stennis as well as his naval career.

“[Capt. Huffman’s] service has been above and beyond the call of duty,” said Harper. “We are all grateful for his years of honorable and distinguished leadership…Senator [Stennis] always said good leaders “Look Ahead”, and I feel confident that some of [Capt. Huffman’s] brightest days are ahead.”

Peck, from Houston, received his commission upon graduating from the US Naval Academy in 1991. He was designated as a naval flight officer after completing flight training at Naval Air Station Miramar in 1993.

Peck served as the commanding officer of the Carrier Airborne Early Warning (VAW) 112 “Golden Hawks” squadron from September 2009 to December 2010, executive officer of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) from 2014 to 2016, then as the commanding officer of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) from February 2016 to May 2017.

Before departing the ship for a final time, Huffman stopped in the ship’s museum to carve his initials into a replica Senate desk. Since the Civil War, senators have carved their initials into their desks on the Senate floor as they leave office; each of Stennis’ commanding officers has followed this tradition to pay homage to Sen. John C. Stennis.

USS John C. Stennis is one of three aircraft carriers changing homeports for operational and maintenance reasons. Stennis is headed for Norfolk where it will undergo its midlife refueling, or reactor complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding. John C. Stennis was commissioned in 1995.

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