By Lt. j.g. Teresa Meadows
Commander, Task Force (CTF) 65 welcomed a new commodore during a change of command ceremony at Naval Station Rota, Aug. 9, 2019. Capt. Matthew Lehman was relieved by Capt. Joseph Gagliano during a waterfront ceremony presided over by Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet.
CTF 65 exercises operational and tactical control of all forward deployed surface combatants operating in the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility (AOR) under the direction of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa.
“We are conducting the change of command here in Rota where the new headquarters are located,” said Franchetti. “This past February, (Capt. Lehman) completed his transition of Task Force 65 headquarters from Naples to Rota. This aligned the man, train, equip team with the force deployment team, and put the commander back on the waterfront. The partnership has only grown exponentially since Task Force 65 moved to Rota.”
This is the first CTF 65 change of command to take place in Rota, Spain after the staff homeport shifted from Naples, Italy earlier this year.
“It is fitting that we are here in Rota, an ever-present reminder of just how busy this AOR is; most recently with having 6 DDG’s moored on this very pier- vividly representing the capability and capacity this strategic location affords” said Lehman. “However none of this is possible without the friendship and support of our Spanish Allies and Partners. No officer looks forward to their Change of Command, but today marks the end of a tour that has lasted close to three years.”
Gagliano stated, “I am proud to be part of the first Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 60 and Task Force 65 change of command in Rota. Moving the command here was unequivocally good change. We are better for it, and the ships are better for it too.”
The ceremony was also attended by Spanish Adm. Manuel Garat Caramé, commander, Spanish Fleet, and Capt. (ESP-N) Antonio Posada, Commander, 41st Frigate Squadron.
CTF 65 and DESRON 60, headquartered in Rota, Spain, overseas the forward-deployed forces of U.S. 6th Fleet’s area of operation in support of regional allies and partners as well as U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.
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.