PHILIPPINE SEA – Commander, Task Force 70 held a change of command ceremony Nov. 5, while underway aboard America’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
Rear Adm. Will Pennington relieved Rear Adm. George Wikoff as both Commander, Task Force 70, and Commander, Carrier Strike Group 5.
Rear Adm. Wikoff assumed command of Task Force 70 Sept. 29, 2019, and led numerous Indo-Pacific operations and exercises including integrated Expeditionary Strike Force operations with USS Boxer (LHD 4), dual carrier operations with the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), a trilateral exercise with the Royal Australian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Expeditionary Strike Force operations with USS America (LHA 6), Valiant Shield 2020, and the Japan-led exercise Keen Sword 21.
“It has been my honor to serve alongside the warriors of Carrier Strike Group 5, who stand the watch with unwavering commitment to mission,” said Wikoff. “Their competence and professionalism, working together with our regional allies and partners, has strengthened our ability to uphold freedom of the seas and the international rules-based order.”
Rear Adm. Pennington became the 76th commander of Task Force 70, after serving as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy, N3/N5, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
“I am excited to return to the Seventh Fleet and sail alongside the professional warriors in our forward-deployed naval forces and our regional allies and partners,” said Pennington. “Through Rear Admiral Wikoff's superb leadership, the Ronald Reagan Strike Group and Task Force Seven Zero have set a high standard for excellence in the world's most operationally challenging environment. We will preserve that standard while expanding the breadth and reach of our operations.”
Pennington graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and earned a Masters in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University.
Wikoff’s next assignment is the Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C.
Task Force 70 is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest numbered fleet in the world, and with the help of 35 other maritime-nation allies and partners, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 70 years, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.