ArticleCS - Article View
NEWS | July 6, 2021


By U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan – U.S. 7th Fleet will hold a change of command ceremony July 8 at the Fleet Activities Yokosuka Fleet Theater.


Vice Adm. Karl O. Thomas will become the 53rd commander of 7th Fleet, the world's largest forward-deployed naval force, when he relieves Vice Adm. William R. Merz.


Merz assumed command of 7th Fleet on Sept. 12, 2019. Tasked with ensuring the effectiveness of 7th Fleet to maintain peace and stability in the region, Merz led Talisman Sabre, Keen Sword, ANNUALEX, Pacific Vanguard, Malabar and many more bilateral and multilateral exercises and operations. Under his leadership, 7th Fleet also strengthened naval integration between U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps and conducted numerous subject matter expert exchanges and combined operations with allies and partners in the region.


Thomas comes to 7th Fleet from the Pentagon where he most recently served as assistant deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans, and strategy.  He previously served in Japan as Task Force SEVEN ZERO/Commander, Carrier Strike Group FIVE deploying on USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) based out of Yokosuka.


Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.


The change of command will also be broadcast live at 10 a.m. (JST) on 7th Fleet’s official Facebook page at the following link:

For more news from Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit