By Ensign Andrew Walker, USS Porter Public Affairs
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) held a change of command ceremony aboard the ship at Naval Station Rota, Spain, Aug. 12, 2020.
Cmdr. Thomas Ralston relieved Cmdr. Craig Trent as Porter’s commanding officer during the ceremony, which was presided over by Capt. Joseph Gagliano, commodore, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 65.
"It has been my distinct honor and privilege to command Porter, ‘Freedom’s Champion’,” said Trent. “My crew inspired me every day and words can’t describe the pride I have in them and all of their achievements. I have every confidence that Ralston will lead them to a higher level of excellence."
Trent has been in command of Porter since Dec. 7, 2018, leading Porter and her crew on three multi-mission forward-deployed naval forces patrols throughout U.S. 6th Fleet, area of operations in support of regional and national security interests. During his tenure, Trent served as the commander of Surface Action Group operations with USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), USNS Supply (T-AOE-6), and Royal Navy frigate HMS Kent (F78) above the Arctic Circle, and into the Barents Sea.
He also participated in Flag Officer Sea Training 2019, exercise Sea Breeze 2020; and oversaw a successful minimal-notice Board of Inspection and Survey Review.
"Porter's numerous successes from the High North to the Black Sea operating with NATO allies and partners, are a direct reflection of Cmdr. Trent's leadership and commitment," said Ralston, who was born in Spain where his father was stationed while serving the U.S. Navy.
Ralston, a native of Rota, Spain, is a graduate of Officer Candidate School. His sea tours consisted of: auxiliaries officer onboard USS Chosin (CG 65), navigator onboard USS Reuben James (FFG 57), chief engineer onboard USS Barry (DDG 52), and as flag secretary to commander, Carrier Strike Group Nine embarked onboard USS Ronald Regan (CVN 76).
Porter recently completed her eighth patrol in the U.S. 6th fleet area of operations, which spanned from April to July of 2020. During the patrol, Trent led the porter and her crew in operations with allied and partner nations including at-sea training with the Romanian Navy in the Black Sea; joint interoperability exercises with the Italian and French navies in the Mediterranean Sea; operations within a Surface Action Group with the Royal Navy in the High North and Barents Sea; passing exercises (PASSEXes) with the Tunisian Navy; exercise Sea Breeze 2020 with Ukrainian, Romanian, Turkish, Georgian, Bulgarian, and Spanish Navies; and a Black Sea protection operation with NATO and other U.S. European Command components that focused on both Joint and NATO interoperability.
Forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, surface combatants, like Porter, from Task Force 65/Destroyer Squadron 60, execute myriad operations from as far North as the Norwegian Sea and south to the Cape of Good Hope including Ballistic Missile Defense, 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 both inport and underway.
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.