USS Fitzgerald Conducts Change of Command Ceremony

By Ensign Ridge Alkonis, USS Fitzgerald Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (Dec. 17, 2012) – The officers and crew of the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) stood in formation for a change of command ceremony, December 17th along with distinguished guests aboard the ship in Yokosuka, Japan.

During the ceremony, Cmdr. Jonathan Schmitz relieved Cmdr. Brian Mutty as commanding officer of Fitzgerald.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to serve as commanding officer onboard Fitzgerald,” said Mutty. “More so, I am truly honored to have the opportunity to serve along side the finest crew in Seventh Fleet – the credit for each success this ship has earned goes to each one of you. The tour has been a highlight of my career and I will never forget the experiences I have had or Sailors I have served with.”

Under Mutty’s command, the ship earned the 2011 Battle “E” award for excellence while operating in 7th fleet and 2012 Ney Award for food service excellence. Fitzgerald excelled in all warfare areas while participating in multiple joint maritime exercises to include Talisman Saber, Pacific Eagle, Foal Eagle, Valiant Shield, Keen Sword and an integrated ballistic missile defense flight test (FTI-01). Additionally, Mutty served as the Executive Officer aboard during Operation Tomodachi.

Mutty was the eleventh commanding officer of Fitzgerald. A graduate of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Mutty later attended the Naval Postgraduate School and earning a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs. Previous ships include USS Bainbridge (CGN 25), USS Laboon (DDG 58), USS Austin (LPD 4), USS Cole (DDG 67) and USS Ross (DDG 71). Throughout his career he deployed to the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, North and South Atlantic and Caribbean. Additional career highlights include serving at OPNAV N86 as Requirements Officer for the Littoral Combat Ship, an Individual Augmentation assignment in support of Joint CREW Composite Squadron One in Mosul, Iraq and assignment as the Chief Plans Policy Branch on the Joint Staff, J-7, Operational War Plans Division.

Mutty arrived in Japan in June 2010 to serve as the executive officer of Fitzgerald and follow on as commanding officer, earning the distinction as the first Executive Officer/Commanding Officer “fleet-up” onboard Fitzgerald.

“Through Cmdr. Mutty’s exceptional leadership, discipline and dedication, Fitzgerald has continued to be an efficient war fighter in all areas,” said Schmitz. “I can only hope to continue the tradition of excellence onboard Fitzgerald.”

Schmitz is the twelfth commanding officer of Fitzgerald. He completed his undergraduate education at the United States Naval Academy in 1996, later attending the Naval Postgraduate School and earning a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs. Previous ships include USS Caron (DD 970), USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), USS Stethem (DDG 63) and USS Lake Erie (CG 70). Cmdr. Schmitz also served in the Surface Warfare Officer Distribution Division (PERS-41) as a Placement Officer and Assistant Community Manager. Following his tour in Millington, he reported to the Office of the Vice President in Washington, DC where he served as a Military Aide to both Vice President Cheney and Vice President Biden.

USS Fitzgerald is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and patrols the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. The U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets covering 48 million square miles with approximately 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft, and 40,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any time.

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