GAETA, Italy (NNS) -- USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) held a change of command ceremony before hundreds of local dignitaries, distinguished guests and ship's officers, Sailors, and civilian mariners Sept. 7.
Capt. Ted Williams relieved Capt. Jeffrey Ruth.
"Any good ship captain would tell you that the true measure of any command success is not how well he or she performs, but how well his or her ship performs, on deployment and on station," said Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander, 6th Fleet. "This flagship has truly enabled the strengthening of bilateral and multilateral relationships across the U.S. 6th Fleet region."
Harris awarded Ruth the Legion of Merit foorr his command of Mount Whitney.
"I am extremely proud to have been given the opportunity to command this ship and her unique crew," said Ruth. "It was through this crew's hard work that Mount Whitney has shined over the past year, specifically with the execution of Operation Odyssey Dawn."
Mount Whitney served as the flagship for the multinational Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn and the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander Headquarters in March in support of United Nations Security Council Resolutions to protect Libyan civilians from attack by Gaddafi regime forces.
Ruth said he could think of no better place to say farewell to his friends and crew than in the city of Gaeta, which serves as the ship's home port.
"I can also think of no better officer to relieve me than Capt. Williams," said Ruth. "[Williams] and I have known one another for a while. In fact, we have flown together and I am extremely confident that he will take this ship and crew to new heights."
Williams commented on his excitement to assume command of the 6th Fleet flagship.
"Ahead we have many challenges, but with this crew we will turn those challenges into opportunities, and we're ready to go," said Williams. "This ship is truly in great hands with the crew of Mount Whitney."
Ruth's next duty station will be on the staff of Commander, Naval Air Forces, Pacific Fleet, in San Diego, Calif.
Mount Whitney operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.