Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT), held a change of command ceremony aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Arlington (LPD 24), June 19.
Rear Adm. Brad Cooper relieved Rear Adm. Roy Kitchener during the time honored ceremony. Adm. Christopher W. Grady, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces served as the presiding officer witnessing the ceremonial transfer of command leadership from Kitchener to Cooper.
The change of command ceremony draws its origins from tradition. It serves as a passing of command from one naval officer to another with all hands present to be witnesses.
During Grady’s remarks, he emphasized the positive impact Kitchener had during his time commanding SURFLANT.
“Roy, you refocused the force on the basics – so crucial to what we do,” said Grady. “You very clearly and consistently reminded the entire team of the things that make us successful in the long-run – ownership, accountability, preservation, self-sufficiency, and basic watch standing principles. You reminded everyone that, in order to live and breathe excellence, we must first master the basics."
Kitchener served as commander since August 2019 and is responsible for ensuring the Atlantic Surface Force is manned, trained, equipped and ready to fight and win. “Combat ready, battle-minded” the command’s motto, Kitchener highlighted the hard work and dedication of his headquarters’ team, waterfront leadership and the 27,000 personnel across the Atlantic Force.
“Thank you for your daily commitment in enabling our ships across the world,” said Kitchener. “Rear Adm. Brad Cooper I really look forward to teaming up with you in leading our Surface Force to new heights.”
Kitchener and the entire SURFLANT team were responsible for ensuring the readiness of all force commands. Kitchener’s next assignment is Commander, Naval Surface Forces and Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Cooper previously served as Chief of Legislative Affairs for the Secretary of the Navy from May 2019 to June 2020. Cooper’s previous sea duty commands include USS Thomas S. Gates (CG 51); Cruiser-Destroyer Group 8 staff embarked on board the Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), Fitzgerald (DDG 62), Anzio (CG 68) and Vicksburg (CG 69). He commanded USS Russell (DDG 59) and Gettysburg (CG 64). He deployed nine times and participated in 13 operations around the world.
“I get excited before every tour, but I am particularly excited for this one,” said Cooper. “I love Sailors and I love ships. I believe the Surface Force has strong momentum. I am thrilled and optimistic for our future and I am excited to share that future with the 27,000 men and women of the Surface Force.”
Cooper takes command of SURFLANT as the force operates within COVID-19 guidelines and precautionary measures, while preparing for Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) missions during the hurricane season.
SURFLANT mans, trains and equips assigned surface forces and shore activities, ensuring a capable force for conducting prompt and sustained operations in support of United States national interests. The SURFLANT force is composed of 77 ships and 31 shore commands.