YOKOSUKA, Japan –
Commander, Task Force (CTF) 71/ Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 held a change of command ceremony Aug. 18, 2022, aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) pierside at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka.
Capt. Walt Mainor relieved Capt. Chase Sargeant as CTF 71/DESRON 15 commodore. Sargeant assumed command of DESRON 15 in Feb. 2021, and his next job will be with the Chief of Naval Operations N5, plans and policies office in Washington, D.C.
“As aggressive nations continue to challenge freedom, international law, and the right to peace and stability, it is the long line of greyhounds of America's Destroyer Squadron 15 and Task Force 71 that stand the watch to protect the freedom of the seas and our national interests,” said Sargeant. “With our allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific region, we have strengthened ties and advanced our mutual warfighting capabilities in an effort to deter those who would choose conflict over peace. The unwavering commitment of our Sailors to warfighting readiness ensures the ships of Destroyer Squadron 15 are ready to support our nation, our allies, and our partners whenever called. It has been my absolute honor and privilege to have served as their commander.”
Sargeant received the “Legion of Merit” for his meritorious performance from June 2019 to Aug. 2022. During his tenure, he led and managed the transition and establishment of DESRON 15 to CTF 71 as the theater surface warfare commander for U.S. 7th Fleet. Additionally, he was responsible for the underway DESRON 15 team and surface ships operating independently across the fleet. He was also presented the Defense Cooperation Medal by Vice Adm. FUKUDA Tatsuya, Commander, Fleet Escort Force, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), in honor and recognition of his contributions to sustained readiness, enhanced interoperability and overall strengthened resilience of the US-Japan alliance. Sargeant’s other major accomplishments include bilateral and multilateral exercises with partner and allied nations, freedom of navigation operations, and strait transits in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Embarked DESRON 15 staff supports the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, which departed Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) May 20, 2022, to support security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Capt. Walt Mainor served as DESRON 15’s deputy commodore prior to his assumption of command.
“It has been an absolute honor to serve with Capt. Sargeant,” said Mainor. “He has been an exceptional leader, raising the bar high and setting the CTF 71 and DESRON 15 team up for a future of continued success. I feel privileged to take command of such an exceptional team and to have the opportunity to carry on a culture of excellence. The future is bright, and I am excited to build upon the successes of this forward-deployed force, contributing to our operations in the region and maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
CTF 71/DESRON 15 is responsible for the readiness, tactical and administrative responsibilities for eight U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers: USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Howard (DDG 83), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), and USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115).
CTF 71/DESRON 15 is the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal Surface Force. 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.