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Capt. Lance Lesher turned command of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8 over to Capt. Jason Rimmer during a ceremony at sea onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), July 12.
The PHIBRON 8 staff is embarked on Bataan, which is deployed as the flagship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The ARG also includes the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) and the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), and is operating with the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) and the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12).
Also embarked on ARG shipping are the Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
“This command has been one of the most fulfilling of my career,” said Lesher. “I have tremendous gratitude for the Amphibious Squadron 8 team’s support, professionalism and commitment to excellence over the course of my time here.
“I look forward to watching this squadron continue to accomplish great things under the extremely capable and strong leadership of Capt. Rimmer moving forward,” he continued. “I have been so fortunate to see what the Sailors and Marines of PHIBRON 8 are capable of during this deployment, and I leave them inspired, fulfilled and thankful.”
Lesher’s previous tours have included service as the commanding officer of the dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45), the chief staff officer of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 24 and the operations officer of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2.
Rimmer previously served as the commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) during its 2019 deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations as the flagship of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group.
“Amphibious Squadron 8 has thrived under the exemplary leadership of Capt. Lesher and I am honored to take command of this exceptional team,” Rimmer said. “The Sailors and Marines of PHIBRON 8 have earned an enviable reputation for tireless work ethic and consistent mission accomplishment, and I am excited to work alongside them.”
The BATARG/26th MEU deployed as part of the ongoing rotation of forward-deployed forces to support maritime security operations along with other coalition maritime forces in Europe and the Middle East. The Sailors and Marines were prepared to conduct a variety of missions, including forward naval presence, maritime security operations, crisis response and theater security cooperation.
Bataan ARG and the 26th MEU consist of more than 4,000 total Sailors and Marines, who are operating in the U.S. 2nd Fleet area of operations. The ARG/MEU previously operated in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operations during the current deployment.
“It has been an honor serving alongside Capt. Lesher since the ARG/MEU composited as one team in May 2019,” said Col. Trevor Hall, commanding officer of the 26th MEU. “Capt. Lesher’s leadership, indefatigable work ethic and dedication to the blue-green team was instrumental during our pre-deployment training program and deployment to the U.S. 2nd, 5th and 6th Fleets.”
While in the Mediterranean Sea in late June, Bataan conducted complex maneuvering operations at sea alongside French and Italian naval forces, while Marine Corps aircraft embarked on New York conducted dynamic live-fire training in Albania.
“I am proud of so many things our team has been able to accomplish together, but one thing I am particularly proud of is our close Navy-Marine Corps integration,” Lesher said. “The men and women of PHIBRON 8 – as well as the crews of Bataan, Oak Hill and New York – enthusiastically embraced a deep and seamless integration with the 26th MEU, truly becoming one blue-green team that remains a worldwide-deployable crisis response team for our nation.”