Cmdr. Mark Gallagher relieved Cmdr. Matthew McKenna as commanding officer of USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119) May 7, during a socially distanced ceremony aboard the ship, pierside at Naval Station Mayport.
“Serving with the ‘Trailblazer’s’ of Delbert D. Black and bringing our ship to life has been the greatest privilege of my career,” said McKenna in his farewell remarks. “Although I will miss serving with these amazing Sailors, I am excited for all they will accomplish under Cmdr. Gallagher’s leadership.”
McKenna assumed command while still in the pre-commissioning process. During his tour as commanding officer, he led the crew through builder’s trials, crew move aboard, its Board of Inspection and Survey, multiple initial crew certifications and commissioning of the Navy’s newest and most advanced guided-missile destroyer.
During the ceremony, McKenna was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal for his accomplishments as commanding officer. Following the award presentation, McKenna and Gallagher officially changed command by reading their orders to the crew.
Gallagher was previously the ship’s executive officer. Prior to serving aboard DDG 119, served on USS New Jersey (BB 62), USS Missouri (BB 63), USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Halsey (DDG 97), and Destroyer Squadron 21.
“I am both humbled and inspired to command Delbert D. Black, a ship named after the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, (MCPON)” said Gallagher. “This ship and her proud crew are a living tribute to the faithful and honorable service of MCPON Black. We intend to represent with distinction, the late MCPON Black and our ship's sponsor, Mrs. Ima Black.”
Homeported in Mayport, Delbert D. Black is the 68th Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer to be delivered to the Navy and the first to bear its name. DDG 119 honors the first MCPON. Black is known for initiating the master chief program, ensuring that enlisted leadership was properly represented Navy-wide.