In a downsized and socially distanced change of command ceremony, Cmdr. Bobby J. Rowden relieved Cmdr. Rusty J. Williamson as commanding officer of USS McFaul (DDG 74) Aug. 13, at Naval Station Norfolk.
Williamson reported to McFaul as executive officer in August 2017, as the ship completed its basic phase and material and training preparations for deployment. He assumed command on deployment in April 2019 and led McFaul through the ship’s independent deployment to the U.S. 5th and U.S. 6th Fleets.
Speaking to the crew during the ceremony, Williamson noted, “I have been honored to sail with you and to be the captain of the ‘Silent Warrior’ team. I am forever indebted to you all for your selfless sacrifice and positive effort to build our team, ready our ship, and maintain the energy, standards, and excellence you have all displayed on deployment and also for the last year in Sustainment.”
After returning from deployment, McFaul commenced the Sustainment Phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan, working with multiple units including the USS Bataan Amphibious Readiness group; Royal Aircraft Carrier Queen Elizabeth; the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. McFaul received the 2019 Command Retention Excellence Award and was recognized by Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWO SIX with the 2019 Battle Efficiency award.
Rowden’s previous sea duty assignments include tours on USS Porter (DDG 78); USS Ponce (LPD 15); USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109); as executive officer on both USS Avenger (MCM 1), and USS Pioneer (MCM 9), before assuming command of USS Pioneer in November, 2014.
In his remarks to the crew, Rowden said, “It’s been a pleasure sailing with Cmdr. Williamson and this team for the last 18 months. I look forward to seeing all that the ‘Silent Warriors’ can accomplish, and all of the challenges we can overcome together.”
The 24th Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS McFaul is homeported in Norfolk and named after Navy SEAL, Chief Engineman Donald L. McFaul. Chief Petty Officer McFaul was killed in action after leaving a position of safety to assist his teammate under heavy fire during combat operations in Panama. His ultimate sacrifice inspired other heroic acts and mission accomplishment and he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Navy Cross.