Cmdr. J. Vincent Libasci, III, relieved Cmdr. Edward Pledger as USS Cole (DDG 67) commanding officer Oct. 30, in front of special guests and crewmembers at Naval Station Norfolk.
Pledger assumed command of Cole in May, 2019. During his command, he led the crew through the end of its Maintenance Availability and the start of the Basic Phase. Significant events included the Engineering Light-Off Assessment, Contractor Sea Trails and Type Commander Sea Trials.
Addressing the Cole crew for the final time, Pledger praised them and expressed his gratitude for their efforts.
“Determined Warriors, you are an unstoppable team and represent the strength of our great nation. Thank you for your service.”
Libasci is a native of Melbourne, Fla. He entered the Navy in 1994 and earned his Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualification serving aboard USS Pensacola (LSD-38). He graduated
from Old Dominion University and was commissioned through the Enlisted Commissioning Program in 2001. He is also a Distinguished Graduate of Marine Corps Command and Staff College and graduate of the Joint and Combined Warfighting School at the Joint Forces Staff College.
At sea, he served aboard USS Ashland (LSD 48); USS Normandy (CG 60); USS Mahan (DDG 72); and at Destroyer Squadron 22. Ashore, he served as an instructor at the Ohio State University Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps where he completed an Individual Augmentee assignment to Al Asad, Iraq. He then served as Officer in Charge, Atlantic Sealift Operational Support Element. Next, he was aide to commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, then aide to commander, Sixth Fleet and Striking and Support Forces - NATO. He most recently served as Cole’s executive officer.
Libasci expressed his excitement in assuming command of Cole saying, “Serving team Cole as your commanding officer is the professional honor of my life. I have the utmost confidence that we will be successful together.”
The Cole team past and present recently commemorated the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack against the ship. On Oct.12, 2000, while in Aden, Yemen, the ship was attacked by members of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. The terrorists used a small vessel to close in on the ship before detonating an improvised explosive device. The blast tore a massive hole in the side of the ship. Seventeen Sailors lost their lives as heroes in the attack, and 37 more were injured. The crew fought bravely for 96 consecutive hours to save their ship.