By Task Force 68 Public Affairs
Commander, Task Force (CTF 68) held a change of command ceremony at CTF 68 headquarters in Naval Station Rota, Spain, Aug. 26, 2020.
Capt. Cameron Chen relieved Capt. Curt Larson to become the ninth commodore of CTF 68. The ceremony was kept small to adhere to COVID mitigations, and though not present at the handover, Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, offered the following in recognition of CTF 68 and their hard work during Larson’s tenure.
“Bravo Zulu to Commodore Larson for your exemplary leadership of Task Force 68 across your complex mission set throughout the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility,” said Black. “Under your command, you fostered a unique sense of professional development and personal dedication in your team. I know Capt. Chen is up to the challenge of filling your shoes and continuing this legacy of excellence.”
Larson was awarded the Legion of Merit and presented with a gift from the staff before providing brief remarks and reading his orders.
“I want to thank you for your hard work these past few years,” said Larson. “All the long hours away from your loved ones to execute the mission are appreciated. It was an honor to come into this building each day and serve alongside each and every one of you.”
Upon assuming command, Chen thanked Larson for his dedication to duty and addressed the CTF 68 staff for the first time as their new commodore.
“Thank you, Commodore Larson, for the great turnover and making this transition go smoothly,” said Chen. “I’m really excited to be coming in to work with such an impressive team. Your level of engagement and consistency in accomplishing fleet priorities has made a huge impact in the theater, and I’m already impressed with what you’ve done.”
During Larson’s tenure, CTF 68 executed 53 joint and combined exercises with more than 1,200 Sailors and Marines in 42 countries across Europe and Africa alongside NATO allies and regional partners.
Most recently, CTF 68 Sailors participated in Eurasian Partnership Mine Counter Measure (EP MCM) Dive 2020 in Constanta, Romania, Aug. 3-6. EP MCM Dive 2020 is a multinational maritime exercise between the United States, Romanian, and Bulgarian naval forces designed to improve operational and tactical interoperability among the participating units, bringing the experiences of different international explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams to the field.
Established March 17, 2005, CTF 68 commands all Navy Expeditionary Forces in U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility and is responsible for providing EOD operations, naval construction, expeditionary security, and theater security efforts in order to conduct Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations and Point and Area Defense to protect and defend critical infrastructure and High Value Assets against terrorist attacks direct support of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. 6th Fleet.
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.