SEA OF JAPAN –
Capt. Fred Goldhammer, a native of New York, passed command of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), to Capt. Daryle Cardone during a change of command ceremony in the ship’s hangar bay while underway in the Sea of Japan, Oct. 7.
Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker. He expressed his appreciation for Ronald Reagan’s crew and Goldhammer’s leadership during his time as commanding officer.
“Reagan is a good looking ship, but it is the Sailors that bring her to life,” said Thomas. “We ask a lot of our Sailors and families in Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FNDF) Japan. Not only do we ask you to be ready on a moment’s notice, we often must change the plan, just like we did a few days ago when you sailed back into the Sea of Japan. That’s what makes these magnificent ships such a flexible and powerful deterrent –you adapt to world events. It is a tough lifestyle. It is something I pay attention to because I know we push our Sailors and pull our ships in many directions. In FDNF, we recognize the importance of being on the front line –presence absolutely matters. It is absolutely tough business, and it takes tough leaders and Sailors to accomplish the mission day in and day out, safely, professionally, time and time again. It is a hard business, and Capt. Goldhammer has navigated this important business to perfection.”
During Ronald Reagan’s 2021 deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleets, Goldhammer’s leadership enabled Ronald Reagan’s crew to support naval operations in the Indo-Pacific while Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 provided air power to protect U.S. and coalition forces as they withdrew from Afghanistan, facilitating the safe transit of more than 7,000 U.S. citizens and evacuees during Operation Allies Refuge.
“Captain Goldhammer led USS Ronald Reagan and her crew in outstanding fashion: From a highly unique U.S. 5th Fleet deployment for the FDNF aircraft carrier, to consistent presence across the Indo-Pacific, he provided visible resolve and credible combat capability to ensure the trust and confidence of allies and partners in the region,” said Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, commander, Task Force (CTF) 70. “Under his leadership, the crew of USS Ronald Reagan were always ready--even through the significant impacts of the COVID pandemic--to do their jobs. His vision and commitment to the mission were a clear and consistent source of unwavering focus. Our allies and partners have been reassured thanks to his efforts, and under his leadership our adversaries understand the incredible capability that USS Ronald Reagan provides. I know that Capt. Cardone will be continuing that charge."
Under Goldhammer’s command, Ronald Reagan conducted multiple exercises with allied and partner nations, strengthening international relationships and supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific. His leadership enabled Ronald Reagan to establish the model for safe port visits in the post-pandemic environment, conducting visits to Singapore, the Republic of Korea and Guam.
“I’m proud of the unfaltering resilience that the crew demonstrated during my time here as the 'Warship 76' Commanding Officer,” said Goldhammer. “The dedication and hard work of the 5,000 Sailors onboard this ship and their families ultimately drive the combat readiness of our ship-air wing team, as we very effectively demonstrate our nation's unflinching commitment to peace and stability in this region. The team will be in excellent hands under the leadership of Capt. Cardone."
Goldhammer, who assumed command of Ronald Reagan in October 2020, and Cardone, his relief, a native of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, began their naval careers with the Tigertails of the Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 --now known as Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 125. Now, they find themselves passing command of America’s Flagship to one another.
"I am honored to take the helm of USS Ronald Reagan from my former squadron mate and longtime friend, Capt. Fred Goldhammer," said Cardone. "This crew will continue to build and demonstrate credible combat power, and we will continue to strengthen our regional alliances and partnerships as we further integrate with partner forces."
Ronald Reagan, the flagship of CSG 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the United States, and supports alliances, partnerships and collective maritime interests in the Indo-Pacific region.