USS Constitution Holds Change of Command Ceremony, Welcomes 74th CO

Story Number: NNS150825-01Release Date: 8/25/2015 8:59:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Kinney, USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- Cmdr. Robert S. Gerosa Jr. assumed the duties as 74th commanding officer of USS Constitution from Cmdr. Sean D. Kearns during a change of command ceremony aboard the ship Aug. 14 in Dry Dock 1 at Charlestown Navy Yard.

Gerosa, a native of New Rochelle, New York, is a 1990 graduate of Iona Preparatory School and graduated from Providence College in May 1994 with a bachelor's degree in history. He was selected to attend Naval Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, and upon completion was commissioned as an ensign in September 1997.

Gerosa's first assignment was to USS Nassau (LHA 4) from 1998-2000 as the ship's main propulsion division officer and electrical officer. During his tenure, Nassau deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and supported NATO operations during the Kosovo Campaign. In May 2000, Gerosa transferred to USS Ramage (DDG 61) as the combat information center officer and assistant operations officer. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks, Ramage was the first ship in the Atlantic Fleet to sortie off the east coast of the United States to provide extended radar coverage for Washington, D.C. and New York City.

In March 2005, Gerosa reported to the USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) as the first lieutenant. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Whidbey Island served in Task Force Katrina and conducted humanitarian and disaster relief assistance in the Gulf States. In July 2006, he transferred to Amphibious Squadron 2/Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group as the staff operations officer/N3. He also served as the amphibious staff officer for Commander Task Force 51/59 at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

Gerosa's shore assignments include director of operations and support for the Naval War College International Programs, aide-de-camp for the director of Expeditionary Warfare on the Chief of Naval Operations' staff, in-service amphibious ships resource officer, and expeditionary warfare lead instructor at Surface Warfare Officers School.

"I am extremely proud and honored to become the next CO of Constitution on this gorgeous summer day in Boston, and to say that I'm humbled to be here would be the understatement of a lifetime," said Gerosa. "I first visited Constitution with my parents and brother in the fall of 1980, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd have the opportunity to serve on board (Constitution), let alone command her."

As Constitution's commanding officer, Gerosa will oversee the remainder of the ship's restoration efforts while in dry dock and prepare the ship and its crew for refloating in 2017 and the traditional Boston Harbor underways tentatively scheduled to follow in 2018.

"Through their hard work and dedication, Constitution's crew truly makes this historic ship come alive," said Gerosa. "I look forward to serving with them for the next two years as we work to preserve Old Ironsides and ensure this iconic vessel continues to represent the heritage of the U.S. Navy for another 200 years to come."

Kearns, who assumed command of Constitution in July 2013, will next report as executive officer of the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) under construction in Bath, Maine. Kearns has been selected for the rank of captain and will be promoted on Sept. 1, 2015.

"Today has been quite an emotional day for me," said Kearns. "Commanding Old Ironsides and serving with her amazing crew for the past two years has been a signal honor and a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will never forget. I know that Cmdr. Gerosa will continue with the great legacy of preserving, protecting and promoting the ship and I wish him, his family, and the crew of Constitution all the best."

USS Constitution, America's Ship of State, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797-1855. Now a featured destination on Boston's Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of active duty U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship's history and the importance of naval sea power to more than 500,000 visitors each year. Constitution is currently dry docked in Charlestown Navy Yard for a multi-year planned restoration period.

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Cmdr. Sean D. Kearns, right, commanding officer of USS Constitution, relinquishes his duties to Cmdr. Robert S. Gerosa, Jr. during a change of command ceremony in Charlestown Navy Yard.
150814-N-XP344-383 CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (Aug. 14, 2015) Cmdr. Sean D. Kearns, right, commanding officer of USS Constitution, relinquishes his duties to Cmdr. Robert S. Gerosa, Jr. during a change of command ceremony in Charlestown Navy Yard. Gerosa became the 74th commanding officer of Old Ironsides. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Kinney/Released)
August 17, 2015
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