USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 held a change of command ceremony, Jan. 5, while deployed with the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
Cmdr. Brent C. Gaut relieved Cmdr. Ken A. Strong as commanding officer.
The ceremony took place on Lincoln's flight deck as a symbolic lead change took place in the air. A lead change represents the passing of responsibility of the flight from one aircraft to another.
Strong assumed command of HSM 77 on Nov. 12, 2010. During his tour, the "Saberhawks" completed a transition from the SH-60B to the MH-60R aircraft and deployed twice to the 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operation (AOOs) with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, which is attached to Lincoln. Strong received transfer orders to Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) in Arlington, Va.
"While being the CO of this amazing squadron has been the experience of a lifetime, an incredible learning experience, an indescribable honor and the culmination of a wonderful career, I readily admit this squadron is not about me, but about the team," said Strong.
Gaut most recently served in the Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy as a policy analyst. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1994 and was designated a naval aviator in September 1996.
"I consider it an immense honor and privilege to serve as HSM 77's commanding officer," said Gaut. "I am humbled by our Sailors' sacrifice and inspired by their service to country. I will strive to build upon the impressive standard of operational and personal excellence established by Skipper Strong throughout his Saberhawk tour."
Gaut's previous assignments include Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49, flight instructor at HSL 41, mini boss on USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) and department head with HSL 45.
HSM 77 is currently embarked with CVW 2 as part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 on Lincoln. Lincoln is on a scheduled deployment to promote peace, regional cooperation and stability throughout the 7th and 5th Fleet AOOs.
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