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News Stories

USS Iwo Jima Holds Change of Command Ceremony

by Ensign Colby James, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs Officer
28 May 2024

Capt. Brian Hamel relieved Capt. Stephen Froehlich as USS Iwo Jima’s 17th commanding officer during a May 17 ceremony held at Naval Station Norfolk.

Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer.
NORFOLK (May 17, 2024) U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Froehlich, outgoing commanding officer of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), gets bonged off following a change of the command ceremony, May 17, 2024. Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Savannah Hardesty)
Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer.
240517-N-HG411-1330
NORFOLK (May 17, 2024) U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Froehlich, outgoing commanding officer of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), gets bonged off following a change of the command ceremony, May 17, 2024. Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Savannah Hardesty)
VIRIN: 240517-N-HG411-1330

Froehlich led the LHD 7 crew of for the past two years, overseeing a maintenance period, the ship’s transition from the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) shipyard back to the waterfront at Naval Station Norfolk, and several certifications including medical and anti-terrorism force protection.

“I have seen the crew of Iwo Jima show unwavering perseverance to return this warship to sea,” said Froehlich. “It’s been my honor and privilege to serve with and for the Iwo Jima crew and families. I look forward to the team’s successes in the coming year.”

Froehlich’s next assignment is Navy Leadership and Ethics Center, Newport, Rhode Island.

Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer.
NORFOLK (May 17, 2024) U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Hamel (center), commanding officer of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Capt. Stephen Froehlich (left), Iwo Jima's outgoing commanding officer, and Cmdr. Thomas O'Flanagan (right), stand at attention during a change of the command ceremony held in the ship's hangar bay, May 17, 2024. Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Savannah Hardesty)
Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer.
240517-N-HG411-1055
NORFOLK (May 17, 2024) U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Hamel (center), commanding officer of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Capt. Stephen Froehlich (left), Iwo Jima's outgoing commanding officer, and Cmdr. Thomas O'Flanagan (right), stand at attention during a change of the command ceremony held in the ship's hangar bay, May 17, 2024. Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Savannah Hardesty)
VIRIN: 240517-N-HG411-1055

“I’m excited to lead this team as we work together to get our ship ready for deployment,” Hamel said in addressing ceremony guests.  “This crew is energized and looking forward to getting back into the fight.”

A Kalamazoo, Michigan native, Hamel’s previous sea-duty assignments include command of the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), and assignments in Amphibious Squadron Two, Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates USS Ingraham (FFG 61) and USS Halyburton (FFG 40), and USS Portland (LSD 37).

Capt. Richard Haley, a native of Millington, Tennessee, assumed the duties as Iwo Jima’s new executive officer.

Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer.
SLIDESHOW | 4 images | 240517-N-H1717-1211 NORFOLK (May 17, 2024) U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Froehlich, the outgoing commanding officer of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), is presented with a gift from the Chiefs Mess by Command Master Chief Tom Mace and Master Chief Information Systems Technician Raymond Sutton, May 17, 2024. Iwo Jima is moored at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of her scheduled maintenance period. The change of command ceremony is a traditional Navy ceremony where the ship's crew witness the transfer of power from the commanding officer to the prospective commanding officer. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nathan Huang)

Iwo Jima is homeported at Naval Station Norfolk and, as an amphibious assault ship, projects power and maintains presence by serving as the cornerstone of the Amphibious Readiness Group and Expeditionary Strike Group. 

Amphibious Readiness Groups provide the Marine Corps with a means of ship-to-shore movement through landing craft, V-22 Ospreys, and by helicopter.

The ship is named for the Battle of Iwo Jima fought in 1945, in which three divisions of U.S. Marines took control of a tiny island from more than 20,000 enemy defenders. Since Iwo Jima‘s June 30, 2001 commissioning, the ship has supported major U.S. humanitarian-assistance and combat operations.

The ship’s motto, “Among the Americans who served on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue,” is a quote from Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, who reflected on the bravery and tenacity of the Marines and Sailors who fought the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Twenty-seven U.S. service members were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroic actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima, more than any other single operation during World War II.


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