MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO) and Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet held a change of command ceremony aboard Naval Station Mayport June 12.
Rear Adm. Victor G. Guillory relieved Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan.
Kernan took command of NAVSO and the newly re-established 4th Fleet July 12, 2008. Kernan will continue his career in Washington, D.C., as the senior military advisor to the secretary of defense.
"My time at Fourth Fleet has been an exceptionally rewarding experience, both personally and professionally, and I will treasure and sustain the many friendships I developed during my time here," said Kernan.
"I especially want to thank the U.S. and partner nation military and civilian personnel that serve in Fourth Fleet, along with the efforts of every nation we have had the honor and pleasure to work alongside. Everything that this command has accomplished is the result of their hard work and perseverance."
Adm. James Stavridis, commander, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), served as presiding officer and presented Kernan with a Distinguished Service Medal on behalf of Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus.
"Rear Admiral Kernan was a visionary whose charismatic leadership, skillful diplomacy and unmatched commitment to mission accomplishment led USNAVSO to new levels of success and relevance," stated his award citation. "A gifted ambassador of our Navy and our nation, he laid a foundation for international cooperation by masterfully cultivating relationships with military and political leaders throughout Latin America."
Guillory most recently served as the director for Surface Warfare for the Office of Chief of Naval Operations. His responsibilities there included the war fighting requirements and resources for all surface combatant ships and combat systems.
"Fourth Fleet was re-established because it reflects a commitment to the Americas, and that commitment has been demonstrated through Fourth Fleets partnering, humanitarian and counter-illicit trafficking activities," said Guillory. "I look forward to continuing the excellent work being done in this region in conjunction with our partners, and I believe my unique understanding of the surface fleet will provide a firm foundation to further these efforts."
As the Navy component command of SOUTHCOM, NAVSO's mission is to direct U.S. naval forces operating in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies within the maritime environment. Various operations include counter illicit trafficking, theater security cooperation, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training.
Fourth Fleet is the numbered fleet assigned to NAVSO, exercising operational control of assigned forces. Fourth Fleet conducts the full spectrum of maritime security operations in support of U.S. objectives and security cooperation activities that promote coalition building and deter aggression.
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