PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) held a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam March 17.
Capt. Eric F. Weilenman relieved Capt. John T. Lauer as Port Royal's commanding officer in a ceremony on the ship's flight deck.
Commander, Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific, Rear Adm. Dixon Smith was the key speaker during the ceremony.
Smith commended Lauer for a job well done as the commanding officer of Port Royal since February 2009.
"I gave many speeches over the years to include lots of change of commands, but this is a special one," said Smith. "I suspect that I act on the sentiment of everyone present today when I tell you the pride I feel standing on the flight deck of the capital ship of the fleet, ready in all regard to answer our nation's call. So, let's just say it up front: 'Port Royal is back!'"
Since February 2009, Port Royal and its crew completed all certification and assessments, including a navigation certification, a cruise missile tactical qualification and a unit-level training assessment certification.
Port Royal was also awarded the 2009 and 2010 "Golden Anchor" for retention excellence. The ship achieved 82.8 percent retention rate, with more than 75 reenlistments and a 39 percent advancement rate.
In August 2010, Port Royal participated in the Seattle Sea Fair 2010, hosting 7,000 visitors in three days. While in Seattle, the ship also hosted a naturalization ceremony for 14 service members.
"I want to honor the accomplishments to those who breathed new life into this ship. I do so because that was the focus of Capt. John Lauer for the past two years," said Smith.
Lauer, in his speech to the crew and attendees, welcomed his relief and thanked his crew, the ship's ombudsman and the Family Readiness Group.
Weilenman, a native New Yorker, participated in seven overseas deployments, including Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and several counter-drug operations. He served as executive officer aboard USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and as commanding officer aboard USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79).
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