NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Adm. Chris Grady relieved Adm. Phil Davidson as commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) and U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command, in a ceremony aboard aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) in port Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, May 4.
Nearly 500 civilian and military guests gathered to welcome Grady and bid fair winds and following seas to Davidson as he departs after more than three years in command.
Distinguished guests included Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson and Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) Gen. Lori Robinson.
Richardson, the guest speaker, summarized "There's no doubt that our Navy is more agile and lethal by virtue of our ability to connect, combine and adapt in rapidly adaptable ways - a direct result of [Adm. Davidson's] keen creativity and intellect."
Davidson, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, is a surface warfare officer and a 1982 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, assumed command of USFF in December 2014. He led the command with a strategic focus supporting the nation's maritime strategy through operational readiness, training effectiveness, and professional and personal development.
Davidson expressed his appreciation to the Fleet Forces staff for the accomplishments obtained under his charge.
"To make it (the fleet) ready takes an enormous amount of effort and teamwork. It has been my distinct pleasure to have worked alongside the many proud professionals who make up U.S. Fleet Forces and the Fleet enterprise across the East Coast of the United States," said Davidson. "I'm often asked how I define, or measure, readiness. Well, I can tell you over the last three years or so, it's simply been a unit's performance in combat."
Davidson emphasized as he departs that he is confident that he is leaving the command in the best hands, "Your experience as a strike group commander, the surface type commander here in the Atlantic and as the 6th Fleet commander and commander, NATO Striking and Support Forces, will pay great dividends here at U.S. Fleet Forces."
Grady, a native of Newport, Rhode Island, and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, stated his enthusiasm on assuming command and readiness to lead the team with a mission-focused mindset.
"We shall succeed by expanding our competitive space with continued investments and developments in every domain, from the seabed to space and cyber, under the sea, on the sea, and in the air. As we fight as a fleet, we will harness the power of the digital age to be faster, more networked, more agile and more lethal. Similarly, we will harness the power of the digital age to generate readiness by being more predictive, more efficient and more innovative," said Grady.
Grady joins the USFF team after wrapping up his tour as the commander of U.S. 6th Fleet, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO; deputy commander, U.S Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa; and Joint Force Maritime Component Commander Europe.
USFF supports both the CNO and combatant commanders worldwide by providing responsive, relevant and sustainable naval forces ready-for-tasking. The command provides operational and planning support to combatant commanders and integrated warfighter capability requirements to the CNO. USFF is a subordinate command of USNORTHCOM.
USFF organizes, mans, trains, maintains and equips more than 125 ships, 1,000 aircraft, and 103,000 active duty service members and government employees, develops and submits budgets, and executes readiness and personnel accounts to develop both required and sustainable levels of fleet readiness. Additionally, the command serves as the unified voice for fleet training requirements and policies to generate combat-ready Navy forces.
Grady is the 42nd commander of USFF, originally established as Commander-In-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet by President Theodore Roosevelt. Rear Adm. Robley D. Evans, served as the first commander, assuming command Jan. 1, 1906, aboard his flagship, the battleship USS Maine (BB 10). In October 2006, U.S. Atlantic Fleet and Fleet Forces Command became U.S. Fleet Forces Command in a ceremony held aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
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