Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ESG 5 Assumes Command of Amphibious Forces in 5th Fleet

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brianna K. Dandridge, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

You can view a video report of this story by clicking here.

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 held an assumption of command ceremony Nov. 8 aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65).

Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris assumed command of the newly established ESG 5. ESG 5 will relieve ESG 2, commanded by Rear Adm. Michelle Howard. The strike group will serve as Commander, Task Force (CTF) 51 and 59 in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility, responsible for all amphibious forces deployed to the region.

"I promise you that the great strides in the partnership building that has been put in place under the tremendous leadership of Admiral Howard will be built upon," Harris said. "Fifth Fleet is as challenging of an area of operations as any for the U.S. Navy and this goes double for expeditionary forces."

ESG 2 spent one year forward-deployed to Bahrain conducting intensive planning and exercises while leading CTF 51 and 59, as well as CTF 151, an international maritime coalition that conducts counterpiracy operations off the coast of Somalia.

During the ceremony, Howard praised the Sailors of ESG 2 for their commitment and hard work. "It's important to remember the many accomplishments we've had as a blue-green Navy-Marine Corps team and the strides we've made toward making this region and the world as a whole a better and safer place through the efforts of all of our Sailors and Marines," she said. "From the deck plates to the front offices, from the most junior Sailor and Marine to the most senior, everyone plays a role and everyone performs a critical mission."

Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said Howard has done a tremendous job commanding ESG 2. "She is an exemplary motivator and a true deckplate leader. She isn't afraid to get her hands dirty no matter the mission," Gortney said. "Through her leadership, she inspires all she comes in contact with and encourages people to excel in all they do. She is the definition of a good leader."

The 48 service men and women of ESG 2 will complete their regularly scheduled, one-year deployment to Naval Support Activity Bahrain and return to their homeport of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Norfolk, Va. by January 2010.

Task Force 51 is responsible for the planning and execution of contingency response missions in the 5th Fleet Area of Operations. Task Force 59 plans and conducts maritime humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations. CTF 151 is a multinational task force conducting counterpiracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea.