SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Capt. Ronald A. Dowdell relieved Capt. Benjamin J. Allbritton as commanding officer of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) during a change of command ceremony on the ship's flight deck, July 19.
Allbritton assumed command of Boxer in Dec. 2016. During his tenure as CO, Allbritton led the crew through more than $143 million dollars in upgrades to the ship during a 15-month phased maintenance availability. Additionally, under his command the Sailors and Marines of Boxer earned unprecedented successes to include Naval Surface Forces Excellence awards for maritime warfare, engineering, and command and control resulting in three consecutive Chief of Naval Operations Afloat Safety Awards, the Force Health and Wellness Unit Green "H" Award, the Navy Surgeon General Health Promotion and Wellness Blue "H" Award, three consecutive Command Retention Excellence Awards, and Boxer's Supply Department earning the ship's 15th consecutive Blue "E".
"Despite the challenges of a complex maintenance availability, I have always been proud of the crew as it worked through every problem - as a team," said Allbritton.
Prior to assuming command, Allbritton served 19 months as executive officer, and led Boxer through Contractor and Type Commander Sea Trials, Basic Phase and Amphibious Readiness Group certification, a compressed Fleet Response Training Program work-up cycle, Exercise Dawn Blitz 2015, two Strait of Hormuz transits, Exercise Ssang Yong 2016, Operation Inherent Resolve, several foreign naval distinguished visitor engagements, and a seven-month Western Pacific and Central Command 2016 deployment, resulting in Boxer receiving its sixth-consecutive Battle Effectiveness Award "Battle E".
Allbritton's next tour will be at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/ U.S. 5th Fleet in Manama, Bahrain.
Rear Adm. Cedric Pringle, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, commended Allbritton's performance during his three years aboard the 'Golden Gator' and urged Dowdell to keep the crew focused on what's ahead.
"Ben [Capt. Allbritton], your tour as commanding officer of Boxer has been nothing short of phenomenal," said Pringle. "The accomplishments by Boxer's crew under your leadership are unprecedented, and I know you are the reason these Sailors and Marines will be ready for any obstacle they might face. Ron [Capt. Dowdell], you have big shoes to fill, but it's your time to shine. Keep the press on as this outstanding team prepares for upcoming certifications and missions. Lead well."
During the ceremony, Allbritton read his orders and transferred command to Dowdell, who read his orders, assumed command, and addressed the audience as commanding officer of Boxer.
"Boxer has a history of rising to the occasion to meet the mission. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this great team through the work up cycle and into deployment," said Dowdell.
Dowdell assumed command after serving as Boxer's executive officer for 20 months from December 2016 to July 2018. Dowdell, a Cleveland native, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1994, later receiving a Master of Science in Global Leadership and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. A career aviator, he acted as Deputy, Command Information Officer for Business Operations for OPNAV N1 prior to arriving aboard Boxer.
Boxer is in its homeport preparing for Basic Phase certification events.
Boxer is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship commissioned Feb. 11, 1995 and is the sixth ship to bear the name. Boxer's crew is made up of approximately 1,200 officers and enlisted personnel and can accommodate up to 1,800 Marines.
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