Destroyer Squadron 31 conducts change of command ceremony

Ships and submarines participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise 2012 sail in formation in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands. U.S. Navy photo by MCC (AW/SW/NAC) Keith DeVinney

MC3 Sean Furey, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Hawaii

Commander, Destroyer Squadron 31 (DESRON 31) held a change of command ceremony July 31 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Capt. Wallace G. Lovely relieved Capt. David A. Welch as commanding officer.

Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, was guest speaker for the event and praised Welch and DESRON 31.

“The largest and most capable destroyer squadron in the Pacific Fleet, the largest destroyer squadron in our Navy’s arsenal, they never missed a mission, ever,” Ponds said. “They were always ready, always prepared to meet (the) mission, whether conducting real world operations as an independent deployer or operating as a part of a carrier strike group. Those missions led by Dave (Welch) at DESRON 31were always a success,” he said. The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition, which formally restates to the officers and enlisted personnel of the command the continuity of the authority of command.

“This was my dream assignment for major command as a surface warfare officer, and I’ve been challenged, energized and humbled by the opportunity to lead and mentor this staff and so many fantastic commanding officers and great Sailors,” Welch said. “My relationship with each of the commanding officers has been a high point, and the list of naval professionals who have had command in this squadron is impressive.”

Welch then relinquished command of DESRON 31 to Lovely, who spoke of his plans for the squadron.

“Today does not mark a phase shift in direction or priorities. Our fundamental charge remains, ships ready for tasking. My staff and I are ready, willing an motivated to help you succeed. Leave no doubt you are responsible for the mission readiness of your ships and the safe keeping of our most precious national assets, your Sailors.”

In May 2008, DESRON 31 assumed duties as immediate superior in command for all Pearl Harbor-based destroyers and frigates under an operational alignment to increase force presence and surge capacity in the western Pacific under Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. DESRON 31 was also assigned as a task group commander for bilateral naval exercises in Southeast Asia.

DESRON 31 moved to Pearl Harbor from San Diego in 1991 and adopted the motto “Ke Koa O Ke Kai,” which means “warriors from the sea.”

Welch’s next duty assignment will be at the office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C.

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