NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain –
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) held its change of command ceremony on the pier at Naval Station Rota, Spain, May 19, 2023, nearly a year after it became the newest destroyer to be forward deployed to Spain.
Cmdr. Corry Lougee relieved Cmdr. Aaron Arky as Paul Ignatius’ commanding officer, while Capt. Ed Sundberg, Commodore, Destroyer Squadron 60, presided over the ceremony.
“This team demonstrated that a ship is only as good as the crew who sails her,” said Arky during the ceremony. “It takes a crew of dedicated and skilled individuals to ensure excellence on the high seas. Time and time again, from Plymouth, England to the vast Baltic Sea, this ship accomplished incredible things.”
Arky, a native of Modesto, California, commanded Paul Ignatius during two multi-mission, Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Europe (FDNF-E) patrols throughout the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of regional and national security interests, operating in the Arctic Ocean, Baltic Sea, and North Sea, where it reassured regional allies and partners and with its incomparable antisubmarine warfare, air and missile defense, surface warfare, and expeditionary warfare capabilities. While operating in the Baltic Sea, the ship joined the Kearsarge Amphibious Readiness Group and demonstrated persistent interoperability with NATO Allied Maritime Command’s Standing NATO Maritime Group 1.
With Lougee as executive officer of Paul Ignatius, Arky and Lougee also led the ship during its participation in the Finnish Navy -led exercise “Freezing Winds” with 11 other Ally and partner countries. Paul Ignatius also conducted port calls in England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, and Poland, strengthening and bolstering relationships with Allies, including Finland, which became the newest NATO member a few months after the visit.
Prior to embarking on its first FDNF-E patrol, Arky led the ship’s homeport shift from Mayport, Fla. to Rota, earned the Anti-Submarine Warfare Bloodhound Award and Battle “E” distinction, and completed light-off assessment (LOA) in a record time.
As a career Surface Warfare Officer, Arky completed his division officer tours as first lieutenant aboard USS Ford (FFG 54) and main propulsion division officer aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). He then served his department head tours as chief engineer aboard USS Ramage (DDG 61) and USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55). Prior to commanding Paul Ignatius, he served as the executive officer aboard USS Shiloh (CG 67).
“As Executive Officer of Paul Ignatius, I know first-hand what this ship and its crew can do,” said Lougee during the ceremony. “I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity to serve as commanding officer, but I also understand I have a tremendous responsibility to lead this ship and crew following Cmdr. Arky’s impressive tenure.”
Lougee, a native of Tucson, Ariz., served as executive officer aboard Paul Ignatius since April 2021. He enlisted in the Navy in 1996 as a Gas Turbine Systems Technician-Electrical, earning the rank of a First Class Petty Officer. He commissioned through the Seaman to Admiral-21 program, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University of Arizona. As a career surface warfare Sailor, Lougee’s shipboard assignments include gas turbine systems technician-electrical shop and main engine room leading petty officer aboard USS Elliot (DD 967) and electronics material officer, strike officer, and fire control officer on USS Port Royal (CG 73). He also served as the operations officer aboard USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), and finally executive officer on Paul Ignatius (DDG 117).
Lougee will take Paul Ignatius to sea for the first time as commanding officer during its second FDNF-E patrol. He will command the ship and crew in executing a myriad of operations in the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) areas of responsibility, including Sea Lines of Communication enforcement, Maritime Interdiction Operations, direct support to NATO combined and Joint operations and exercises, Counter-terrorism operations, Counter-piracy operations, Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership operations, whole of government Africa Partnership Station deployments and Theater Security Cooperation activities in port and underway.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with our allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the EUCOM and AFRICOM areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.