USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The "Red Rippers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 held an airborne change of command ceremony above the deployed aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) April 27.
Cmdr. Daniel J. Sullivan IV relieved Cmdr. Randy Stearns as VFA 11 commanding officer.
Sullivan and Stearns both flew in F/A-18F Super Hornets assigned to VFA-11 as they read their orders, with Stearns giving the final flight lead to Sullivan as they flew over Enterprise.
Sullivan, who joined the Red Rippers as an executive officer (XO) in March 2010, will be the 76th CO of the Navy's oldest continuously active fighter squadron, which was commissioned in 1927 as VF-5S.
Serving as the commanding officer of one of the Navy's oldest and most storied squadrons may seem like a daunting task, but it is one Sullivan enthusiastically accepts.
"It is a wonderful and humbling feeling of anticipation to be the 76th Red Ripper CO," said Sullivan. "I am very proud to be a Red Ripper. This is such a wonderful organization of which to be a part, and it is a privilege to work alongside each and every VFA-11 Sailor."
When it comes to leading the nearly 250-Sailor-strong Red Ripper squadron toward future successes, Sullivan said he is excited to take on the challenge.
"My goal is to exceed the already high standards that are expected from Red Ripper Sailors, chiefs and officers on a daily basis," said Sullivan. "Through our hard work and team focus, we will always strive to accomplish our mission while fostering a positive command culture that develops future Navy leaders."
Sullivan praised the efforts put forth by all Red Ripper Sailors and their families back home to make the first half of their deployment aboard Enterprise a successful one.
"I have never worked with a more dedicated and professional team of men and women, and every day I grow more proud of their accomplishments," said Sullivan. "Our loved ones also play a huge role in the success of this squadron by giving us their continued support from the home front each and every day. All of these factors put together are what allow us to continue to accomplish the mission."
Stearns, who also joined VFA-11 as an XO in November 2008, departs the squadron for his next assignment as a training and readiness officer for Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic.
"This has been the most rewarding tour I've ever been a part of in the Navy thanks to the tremendous support from my family, friends and shipmates along the way," said Stearns. "The Red Rippers and their families will always be in my thoughts, and I look forward to reading about all the great things the Rippers will be doing in the future."
Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing 1 are in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting close-air support for Operation Enduring Freedom.
For news regarding Enterprise Strike Group's deployment, visit the USS Enterprise Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USS.Enterprise.CVN.65.
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.