By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Travis S. Alston
SAN DIEGO — Capt. Karl O. Thomas was relieved by Capt. Douglas C. Verissimo as commanding officer of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during a change of command ceremony May 31 on the flight deck in the carrier’s homeport of San Diego.
Rear Adm. James T. Loeblein, commander, Carrier Strike Group One, presided over the ceremony.
Before being relieved of command, Thomas thanked each of Carl Vinson’s “Gold Eagle Warriors” for their unwavering dedication to the Navy’s mission by getting the ship ready to deploy on time.
“You should be extremely proud of all you have accomplished, and you should be even more excited for what is about to come, said Thomas. “Whether on deployment or during our shipyard availability, you rose to each challenge with a positive, ‘get to yes’ attitude. We truly made a difference for the people of Kobani and for the Yaziti tribe near Singcar Mountain, as well as many Iraqis and Syrians caught up in the Middle Eastern turmoil.”
Loeblein presented Thomas the Legion of Merit award during the ceremony for his outstanding service as commanding officer. Carl Vinson completed a Western Pacific and Middle East deployment under Thomas, followed with the successful completion of a Chief of Naval Operations Planned Incremental Availability.
While deployed, Carl Vinson safely steamed over 61,000 nautical miles, operated in the 7th, 5th and 3rd naval fleet areas of responsibility, completed 10,641 fixed-wing launches and recoveries, 33 replenishments-at-sea and dropped 500,000 pounds of precision weapons on ISIS targets.
After official orders were read, Verissimo assumed all duties and responsibilities as commanding officer and addressed his new crew for the first time.
“This is a mighty warship, and with her just out of the maintenance availability, we are going to be the most relevant aircraft carrier in the fleet for the upcoming years,” said Verissimo. I’m honored and excited to take the reins and have this opportunity. I will do my best to build on the successes of Captain Thomas and the crew of Carl Vinson.”
Prior to assuming command, Verissimo served as commanding officer aboard USS New Orleans (LPD 18).
Thomas was recently selected for promotion to rear admiral and will report to Commander Naval Air Forces while awaiting further assignment by Chief of Naval Operations.
The Carl Vinson Strike Group is scheduled to deploy on a Western Pacific deployment in 2017.