Navy's Newest Carrier Under New Command

Story Number: NNS030828-23Release Date: 8/28/2003 3:13:00 PM
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By Journalist Seaman Shane Tuck, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Capt. James A. Symonds relieved Capt. Bill Goodwin as commanding officer of the recently commissioned USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a change-of-command ceremony Aug. 28, aboard the ship at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

"I couldn't be prouder to serve alongside the men and women of USS Ronald Reagan," said Symonds. "These Sailors have worked tirelessly to turn her into America's newest and most technologically advanced nuclear-powered carrier.

"It is my deepest desire to uphold the highest standards of pride and tradition of the United States Navy, which are already instilled in this crew, and to honor the great name of President Ronald Reagan."

Symonds began his naval career in 1975 after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from State University of New York.

He was commissioned at Aviation Officer Candidate School Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., in 1975 and designated a naval flight officer (NFO) in 1976.

As an NFO, Symonds completed A-6 Bombardier/Navigator training and was assigned to Attack Squadron (VA) 115. He later served as an instructor at VA-128. The Sodus, N.Y., native was selected for pilot training in 1981 and earned his wings of gold in 1983.

As a pilot, Symonds served with VA-196 aboard USS Constellation (CV 64), and later as Operations and Maintenance Officer of VA-196. He also served as executive and commanding officer of VA-165 and air operations officer for Commander, 6th Fleet.

After completing Navy Nuclear Power training, Symonds served as executive officer of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and later as Commanding Officer of USS Nashville (LPD 13).

Most recently, Symonds served as Deputy Director for counter-drug operations in U.S. Southern Command, Miami.

During his 28 years of service, Symonds earned the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Strike Flight Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign citations.

Under his tenure, Goodwin molded his crew "to excel above all expectations and set standards far exceeding previous aircraft carriers," said Capt. Herm Shelanski, the ship's executive officer. "Capt. Goodwin's adage, 'safely, professionally and on time' helped sustain the newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the greatest Navy in the world, through an astoundingly successful Sea Trials and commissioning. His commitment to the 'Sailor comes first' belief aided USS Ronald Reagan in earning its tremendous reputation," Shelanski added.

Goodwin will assume duties as the Deputy Director of Plans and Policy at European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.

For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at

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