PORTSMOUTH, Virginia (NNS) (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) held a change of command ceremony aboard the ship, Aug. 9.
Capt. Kyle Higgins relieved Capt. Paul Spedero and assumed duties as the commanding officer of this Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in a ceremony attended by distinguished visitors, family, crew, and several former Ike commanding officers.
Spedero, a 1990 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Springfield, Massachusettes, native, assumed command in November 2015. During his tour, he brought Ike out of an extensive dry dock maintenance period and through a demanding work-up cycle.
Ike completed a very challenging seven-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean Sea in 2016, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). In support of OIR, the Ike CSG with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 completed 1,900 combat sorties and expended more than 1.3 million pounds of ordnance from both the Arabian Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The ship also took part in a historic port visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2017 – the first such visit in nearly 20 years.
In his remarks, Spedero said the Sailors who serve aboard Ike, “have been and remain the best crew on any ship in any Navy.”
“The Sailors you see here today and the ship you are now on are a significant source of military power,” said Spedero. “The ship was designed, built and maintained by true patriots, and she sails with a crew made up of the very best our country has and behind them are selfless and dedicated families.”
Rear Adm. John Meier, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, spoke about Spedero’s dedication to the Ike team, saying he, “excelled at every turn.”
“Our best commanding officers view their crews as extension of their family,” Meier said. Of Spedero, he added, “I’ve seen firsthand the passion that both you and [your wife] have brought to Ike.”
Meier added that Ike, currently undergoing a planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, while in the maintenance phase of the optimized fleet response plan (OFRP), will be going back to sea at a time of great challenges in the world.
“It is exactly these threats that must imbue us with a sense of urgency,” Meier said. “Throughout every aspect of the OFRP training cycle [Spedero] set the bar for others to follow; it’s been impressive.”
Spedero reports next as executive assistant to Director, Joint Staff.
Higgins, a native of Port Jefferson, New York, graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1990. He assumed command of Ike following assignments on both coasts and Japan. His command tours include the “Yellow Jackets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 138 and commanding officer of USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), the flagship of the U.S. 7th Fleet. Higgins also served as executive officer of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Prior to coming to Ike, Higgins completed a tour on the OPNAV staff as director of fleet readiness.
In his remarks, Higgins said he looks forward to completing the work started under Spedero, “to deliver the most combat-capable carrier.”
But Higgins added that even a ship as powerful as Ike would be nothing without a crew ready for tasking.
“We’re more than departments and divisions; we’re a family, we’re a team. We’re going to succeed,” he added. “Together we’re unbeatable and we’ll be ready for our nation because our nation needs us.”
Ike was commissioned in 1977 as the second ship in the Nimitz class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Aircraft carriers provide decisive and sustained airpower to support a full spectrum of mission requirements.
For more news from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn69/.