SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Peleliu (LHA 5) held a change of command during a ceremony on board Sept. 4.
Capt. David A. Schnell relieved Capt. Marcus A. Hitchcock as the commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship.
Schnell becomes the 19th commanding officer of Peleliu, and the first Surface Warfare Officer in the ship's history to command the amphibious assault ship under the Fleet Up Program.
For the past 20 months, Schnell was the executive officer, and then fleeted up to assume the role of commanding officer. He now begins an 18-month tour as the commanding officer as the ship prepares for a deployment next year.
"I have been looking forward to this day with great anticipation," Schnell said. "My primary goal is to make Peleliu the best command possible."
Hitchcock's next assignment is on the staff of Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk. His accomplishments while on the Peleliu include a successful Western Pacific cruise in 2008, a $61 million maintenance and dry docking period, and preparation of the crew for Light Off Assessment (LOA) and INSURV inspections.
Hitchcock thanked the crew and Schnell for their hard work during his tour.
"I count my association with you as one of the most rewarding and professional experiences of my career," Hitchcock told Schnell. "You are a truly remarkable officer, and I know Peleliu will rocket to new heights under your command."
The ship's mission is to embark, move, deploy and land U.S. Marine Corps forces by helicopter, landing craft, and amphibious vehicles in support of action ashore.
"Peleliu is just so much steel and machinery. It's the crew that brings her to life and she has one of the finest crews on this waterfront," said Hitchcock.
For more news from USS Peleliu (LHA 5) , visit www.navy.mil/local/lha5/.