Destroyer Squadron 15 holds change of command in Guam

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Cunningham, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Japan
U.S. Navy

APRA HARBOR, Guam (NNS) – Capt. Jeffrey A. Bennett II relieved Capt. Christopher J. Sweeney as Commander, Destroyer Squadron 15 (DESRON 15) during a change of command ceremony aboard the forward-deployed guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) in Apra Harbor, Guam Sept. 26.

"This tour has been the highlight of my career at sea,” said Sweeney. “My destroyer commanding officers, chief petty officers, Sailors, squadron staff and their families are the best of the best in the Navy and they prove it every day. This team is poised for the fight tonight, providing sea control and power projection throughout the Western Pacific to ensure freedom of access to the global commons.

Adm. Charles Williams, commander, Task Force 70 and Carrier Strike Group FIVE, reiterated Sweeney’s thoughts on the capabilities of DESRON 15 as the events guest speaker.

"Managing many of the most capable warships in the world across the vast and dynamic 7th Fleet would be a significant challenge for the very best officers in our Navy. Thankfully, CAPT Sweeney is one of those very best officers, and made it look easy," said Williams. "It is absolutely clear to me that CAPT Sweeney's leadership, vision and innovation set the pace for his peers to follow - and also kept DESRON 15 as the exemplary destroyer squadron on the world's seas."

Incoming commodore Bennett is a Michigan native and a 1992 graduate of the United States Naval Academy where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Naval Architecture. He also earned a Master of Science in Applied Physics Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

His sea assignments include command of USS Stockdale (DDG 106) and MCM Crew Constant, where he had command of USS Gladiator (MCM 11), USS Dextrous (MCM 13), and USS Avenger (MCM 1). Captain Bennett also served aboard USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58).

Ashore, Capt. Bennett served as Senate Director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, Military Assistant at the Defense Business Board, and as a defense fellow for Senator Jeff Sessions. He also served on the Chief of Naval Operations Staff, Surface Warfare Directorate (N86), and at Naval Personnel Command (PERS 41).

Bennett will take command as the 56th commodore of CDS 15, responsible for the Navy's largest forward-deployed destroyer squadron; commanding the readiness, administration, and tactical control of eight Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers as well as all destroyers deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
“I thank Capt. Sweeney for setting such a high standard,” said Bennett. “Serving as forward-deployed naval forces out of Japan gives us a unique opportunity to show the Navy’s full capabilities of being always prepared come what may. I look forward to leading this fine group of Sailors that continues to define the excellence this Navy brings to the AOR.”

CDS 15's commodore, forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, serves as immediate superior in command (ISIC) of ships permanently assigned to the squadron, sea combat commander (SCC) for Battle Force U.S. 7th Fleet and the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, as well as commander, Theater Surface Combatant Group 70.15, the executive agent for Theater Surface Warfare in the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR.

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