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NEWS | April 12, 2023

USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) Changes Command

By Mass Communication 2nd Class Mario Coto

The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) held a change of command ceremony in Gaeta, Italy, April 11, 2023.

Capt. Daniel “Prozac” Prochazka was relieved by Capt. Matthew J. Kiser as the commanding officer of Mount Whitney. Vice Adm. Thomas Ishee, commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, presided over the ceremony and delivered remarks about Prochazka’s time aboard the Mount Whitney.

“There is no better place to celebrate and honor the tradition of the change of command ceremony than on the deck of our Sixth Fleet command ship, with beautiful Gaeta all around us,” said Ishee.

While commanding officer, Prochazka led Mount Whitney as the ship took Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) to sea multiple times, went through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea to interdict illicit activities on the high seas, and worked in the Baltic to reassure allies and partners.

“One unique aspect of serving as the commanding officer of the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship is how the ship and crew represent the U.S. Navy in Europe and Africa, participating in many exercises, key leader engagements, and strengthening our relationships with allies and partners,” said Ishee.

Under Prochazka’s tenure, Mount Whitney served as the flagship for Sixth Fleet and STRIKFORNATO during BALTOPS 2022, conducting exercise and events in the midst of the invasion of Ukraine.

“Trust amongst allies is the foundation of our warfighting advantage,” said Ishee. “Capt. Prochazka innately understands the importance of building trust.”

Of equal importance, the crew completed a $22 million dry-docking maintenance availability, ensuring the ship was prepared to deter and defend in one of the most dynamic theaters of the world.

“As many of you know, to complete a successful maintenance availability and depart the shipyard on-time takes a team effort from the commanding officer and crew,” said Ishee. “Prozac built a great team that accomplished all assigned missions.”

Ishee presented Prochazka with a Legion of Merit award for his exceptional performance while serving as the commanding officer for Mount Whitney.

During his remarks, Prochazka emphasized how critical his team was for such a successful and fruitful tenure, and spoke about the accomplishments Mount Whitney achieved during his tour as the commanding officer.

“Team 20 – you are an amazing group of civilian mariners and Sailors,” said Prochazka. “We put effort into this ship to ensure she is ready to go when and where needed and you did not settle for just ok but ensured everything is ready.”

Prochazka also spoke about the time-honored tradition of turning over command, and the responsibility Kiser was receiving with the command.

“You have a great team and great ship,” said Prochazka. “I am a better mariner, a better leader and a better person than when I got here. Continue to look out for each other and make our Navy and nation better.”

Kiser will lead Mount Whitney’s crew through the upcoming exercise BALTOPS 23 which is scheduled to take place in June.

“The instant I set foot aboard this warship I felt a camaraderie and spirit that only comes from a well led crew,” said Kiser. “The ship has been through incredible operational and maintenance challenges over the past twenty months and your leadership was the driving force to ensure Mount Whitney is still ready for any mission.”

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.

For more than 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with 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 U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) 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.