Story Number: NNS130624-11Release Date: 6/24/2013 2:23:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Command of Naval Air Force Atlantic changed hands during a ceremony aboard aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) June 21.

Rear Adm. Troy M. Shoemaker relieved Rear Adm. Ted N. Branch as commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (COMNAVAIRLANT), during the change of command ceremony in the ship's hangar bay.

During his farewell remarks, Branch extended his appreciation to the Sailors and civilians that comprise the COMNAVAIRLANT staff.

"The staff at AIRLANT is second to none," said Branch. "From the very senior post-command captains and commanders, to the master chiefs and everyone down the line; they come to work every day with a focus on getting things done and supporting the Sailors on the waterfront and the flight line."

Branch, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot, has commanded AIRLANT since Februar, 2011. He has been nominated for promotion to vice admiral and assignment to the staff of the Chief of Naval Operation as deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance/director of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.

"I'd like to thank the AIRLANT team for these past two years," said Branch. "It has been my deepest honor to work with you, and I commend and salute each of you for your service, your patriotism, and the dedication you have shown to our Naval Air Force, our Navy, and our nation."

Shoemaker reports to AIRLANT from his most recent job as commander, Carrier Strike Group 3 aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) which recently returned from deployment.

"I have had the incredible privilege to command two carrier strike groups," said Shoemaker. "The quality, capability and credibility of our forward deployed Naval Forces remain the finest in the world."

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Shoemaker has operated from eight aircraft carriers, commanded two F/A-18 strike fighter squadrons including the East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron VFA-106 at NAS Oceana, a carrier air wing and two carrier strike groups. He has accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours, primarily in the A-7E Corsair and F/A-18C Hornet, and logged more than 1,000 arrested landings.

"I am acutely aware of the increasingly constrained fiscal environment we are in. Tough choices lie ahead," said Shoemaker. "[Branch] turned over a staff that is already laser-focused on this effort and I am ready to get to work."

As commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, headquartered at Naval Station Norfolk, Shoemaker will be responsible for overseeing the manning, training, and equipping of seven nuclear powered aircraft carriers, four carrier air wings, a strike fighter wing, a patrol and reconnaissance group, a maritime patrol wing and two helicopter wings based on the east coast of the United States. The command encompasses 80 squadrons, more than 1,000 aircraft and 40,000 personnel supporting Maritime Security Operations and carrying out U.S. maritime strategy by providing combatant commanders sea control and power projection, forward presence and on-call deterrence, as well as mobile humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

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