Cmdr. Thomas McCandless relieved Cmdr. Matthew Cox as commanding officer of USS Mitscher (DDG 57) today during a small, onboard change of command ceremony at Naval Base Norfolk.
Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, Commander, 2nd Fleet, was the ceremony guest speaker and addressed a small assembly of family and crew watching through the ship’s video system. He spoke of the importance of leadership and responsibility being the hallmarks of USS Mitscher’s operational capability.
"Today is not only your ship's change of command - the time-honored naval tradition where the responsibility of command and leadership is transferred from one person to another, but today also marks the 26th year since this ship was commissioned,” said Lewis.
“Cmdr. Cox, you have exceeded all expectations and have set the standard within the fleet, ensuring this warship remained capable and ready for operational tasking at any time."
Following a deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet area of operations, Cox assumed command in August 2019 while the ship was in the shipyard. During his tenure, he led the crew through the end of its Chief of Naval Operations Maintenance Availability, as well as the ship’s 25th commissioning anniversary. Following Mitscher’s return to Naval Base Norfolk, Cox led the ship through Sea Trials, Basic and Advanced Phase Training, as well as the search and rescue of the sailing vessel Revival which had lost steering while underway in the Caribbean Sea.
For all the hard work and dedication of the crew, Mitscher was awarded the 2019 Battle “E.”
During his final remarks to the crew, Cox said that, "Leading this crew, the Mitscher family, our team of American volunteers, has been the honor of a lifetime and an absolute joy. You truly represent the best that our Nation has to offer. You have worked together to overcome every challenge and excelled in carrying out the proud legacy of our namesake, Adm. Mitscher.
“I am so proud of you and will always be proud to be called a Mitscherman."
McCandless assumed command following his tour as the ship’s executive officer. Prior to this, he served as the U.S. Fleet Forces Command Ballistic Missile Defense and Amphibious Asset Manager.
"It is a humbling experience to be selected as the next commanding officer of USS Mitscher, and the professional honor of a lifetime,” said McCandless, who also listed among the challenges the crew has had to overcome, facing the COVID-19 pandemic while serving aboard.
“Serving onboard a warship is never an easy task and it’s made much more strenuous and stressful given the current pandemic. Despite the additional stressors, this crew has never once backed down from a task given them. I have full confidence in the ability of every Mitscherman to excel at our mission, and I cannot ask for a finer crew. I look forward to sailing over the horizon with them, and providing the ready ship the nation needs."
The seventh Arleigh-Burke class, guided-missile destroyer to be commissioned, USS Mitscher is named after Adm. Marc Mitscher. He was a pioneer of Naval Aviation, being designated as Naval Aviator Number 33 before participating in the first transatlantic crossing by air, for which he earned the Navy Cross.
During World War II, Mitscher served as the commanding officer of USS Hornet (CV 8) and commanded a fast attack carrier task force as Commander, Task Force 58/38, being awarded two more Navy Crosses for action at Leyte Gulf and Iwo Jima. He ultimately rose to commander-in chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, following the conclusion of World War II.
Mitscher’s legacy of excellence is carried on by the DDG 57 crew.