The crew of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) held a change of command ceremony in the ship’s hangar bay, July 21.
Capt. Craig Clapperton relieved Capt. Daniel Grieco, who served as Theodore Roosevelt’s (TR) commanding officer from February 2013 to July 2015.
“For me, this journey started in January of 2013 when I walked the brow of the Big Stick for the first time in Newport News shipyard, and I was as motivated as any leader could possibly be,” said Grieco. “Over the two-and-a-half years that I’ve been here, it has been truly amazing to watch this team conquer, rebuild, train, learn and succeed at every single challenge that has been thrown at it. [Our achievements] have been accomplished on the backs, talents, skills and determination of the finest Sailors our Navy has ever seen, the Rough Riders. Each and every visitor that comes to TR agrees [that] the motivation and spirit of this crew is second to none. While I’m admittedly biased, I couldn’t agree more. It has been my greatest privilege and honor to serve as commanding officer of Theodore Roosevelt. It has been an immensely humbling and rewarding experience; one I will forever be grateful for.”
Rear Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12, provided remarks as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.
“In a moment, we’ll pin an award on you and that award will include an impressive list of accomplishments. Those accomplishments were those of the crew and I’m certain you will say as much,” he said. “However, the mark of a truly superior leader is one that highlights the accomplishments of its people. It sets the atmosphere that encourages extraordinary results, and [Capt. Grieco] that’s what you’ve done. Furthermore, I want to thank you for being a team player and a team leader. You truly understand the meaning of a band of brothers. I want to recognize what a great tactician you really are. You’ve done a fantastic job and it’s been an absolute pleasure to serve alongside you. Your leadership amongst your peers has been absolutely superb.”
Lewis presented Grieco with the Legion of Merit for meritorious service while serving as Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer.
Grieco oversaw a turning point in TR’s history. Taking command amidst the ship’s midlife overhaul, known as refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH), Grieco successfully ushered Theodore Roosevelt through its extensive refit and returned the ship to the fleet as an operational aircraft carrier. Since leaving RCOH, Theodore Roosevelt has steamed more than 107,000 nautical miles and successfully conducted more than 16,000 launches and recoveries. CVN 71 is now a front line asset on deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
Following the award presentation, Grieco and Clapperton then read their orders, in keeping with Navy tradition, officially changing command. Clapperton addressed his crew for the first time immediately after assuming duties as Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer.
“I am humbled as I say thank you and promise continued operational excellence and support to our warfare commanders,” said Clapperton. “I will challenge the best crew on the best ship in the most powerful Navy in the world to continue to improve themselves and their ship. I cannot begin to express how honored and humbled I am to have the opportunity to serve as the commanding officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt. To say that I am looking forward to sailing and serving with each of you, and to be part of the Rough Rider family is a vast understatement, and there are simply not enough words to fully express my gratitude and appreciation.”
Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 99) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.
For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/ .