Carrier Strike Group 12’s (CSG-12) Information Warfare Commander (IWC) held its first change of command ceremony at the historic Pennsylvania House, on board Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, May 6.
During the ceremony, Capt. Steve Shepard was relieved by Capt. Joshua Himes, as CSG-12’s IWC. Distinguished guests included Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander, Second Fleet, and Rear Adm. Craig Clapperton, commander, CSG-12.
Capt. Shepard served as IWC for the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group on its 10-month around the world deployment to the U.S. 2nd, 6th, 5th, 7th, and 3rd Fleet areas of operations. During the deployment, the strike group conducted combat sorties in support of Operations Freedom’s Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. The 295-day deployment was one of the longest at-sea carrier deployments since Vietnam. Following deployment, Capt. Shepard became the first IWC for the first in class USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) strike group.
“Serving as IWC has been the greatest honor of my 31-year career,” said Shepard. “I cannot think of a better individual than Capt. Himes to take over and take the IWC team to the next level. We can’t sail on yesterday’s wind, and Capt. Himes will bring new wind to our sails and to the IW community within the Navy.”
Vice Adm. Lewis presented Shepard with the Legion of Merit, an award earned for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements, prior to Shepard relinquishing command.
“The change of command ceremony is a critically important, time-honored tradition, and this one in particular marks an extremely important milestone in the Information Warfare Community,” said Lewis. “For Capt. Shepard becoming CSG-12’s IWC, it has been no small feat. You are now one of the first IWCs, and you have had the challenging job of establishing new norms for how your community will fill this role in the fleet for years to come.”
On display during the ceremony was an American flag that Shepard’s father-in-law had saved from South Vietnam during the U.S. military’s 1975 evacuation. This was the first time the flag had been displayed on a flagpole since its removal from Saigon in April 1975.
“This flag has been in my family since 1975, and it’s a reminder of our nation and it’s a reminder of where we go and what we do to support our allies,” said Shepard.
Capt Shepard will be retiring this summer after completing over 31 years of naval service.
Himes said it was an honor to be back in Norfolk and that he looked forward to continuing the work that Shepard had spearheaded as CSG-12’s IWC.
“The opportunity to return to Norfolk was a surprise, but frankly, a great one,” said Himes. “I can’t imagine a better way to come back to the waterfront than to focus on the high-end fight as part of a 21st century warfighting model that’s being put in place on the latest carriers. And so, working off what Capt. Shepard and the team here has done, I see opportunities abound and endless opportunities moving forward.”
The IW community is part of a U.S. Navy initiative to merge intelligence with command, control, communications and computers, and is charged with providing sufficient overmatch in command and control, understanding the battlespace and adversaries, and projecting power through and across all domains, which evolves information dominance into a Naval warfighting pillar.