By U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) held a change of command ceremony in Gaeta, Italy, April 25, 2019.
Capt. G. Robert Aguilar was relieved by Capt. Cassidy C. Norman as the commanding officer of Mount Whitney. Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, presided over the ceremony and delivered remarks about Aguilar’s time aboard the Mount Whitney.
“Capt. Aguilar has done a stellar job taking care of the crew and executing the mission of Mount Whitney over the past 15 months,” said Franchetti. “Throughout your tour, this ship has been on the front lines of our operations, exercises, and strategic engagement plans with our allies and partners.”
During Aguilar’s tenure as commanding officer, Mount Whitney operated away from its homeport more than 290 days in 15 months, steamed over 43,000 nautical miles, operated from the Levant to the Atlantic, the Equator to the Arctic, from the Black sea to the Baltic sea, visited over 14 countries, supported 6 major fleet and multinational exercises and operations, embarked US, NATO, and partner commanders and their staffs.
Franchetti presented Aguilar with a Legion of Merit for his exceptional performance while serving as the commanding officer for Mount Whitney.
Aguilar thanked the crew for an outstanding tour aboard the ship and acknowledged the milestones they were able to accomplish together.
“You all know how much I appreciate what you have done,” said Aguilar. “Mount Whitney safely steamed more than 40,000 nautical miles, almost twice around the world, and hosted presidents and ambassadors in more countries then we can count. You performed our missions with pride, professionalism, and aplomb. I charge you, like I have many times in the last fifteen months, to remember the reason all of us in uniform serve: to serve a higher cause, to serve our Navy and our Country.”
Norman will lead Mount Whitney’s crew through a vigorous and challenging schedule into 2020, including support of exercises Baltic Operations and Trident Jupiter.
“I am honored to be part of this capable command,” said Norman. “The Mount Whitney team is looking forward to executing our primary mission, providing support to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and the U.S. 6th Fleet commanders. We intend to continue our distinguished service in all manners of operations.”
Adm. James Foggo, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander, Allied Joint Forces Command Naples, joined numerous other flag officers and civilian dignitaries at the ceremony to congratulate the captains.
Capt. Norman has logged 698 traps and 116 combat missions in the F/A-18C Hornet and more than 2,900 flight hours in 42 different types of aircraft.
Capt. Aguilar will report as the commanding officer of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in the spring of next year.
USS Mount Whitney, forward-deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.