USS George H.W. Bush welcomes in new commanding officer

Captain Sean Bailey

NORFOLK, Va. – Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush held a change of command ceremony on January 12, which saw Captain Sean Bailey relieve Captain Will Pennington of his command.

A native of Iowa and 1989 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Captain Pennington assumed command of the USS George H.W. Bush in October 2015. His command included a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th fleet.

During the ceremony, Pennington credited the success of his tour to the teamwork of the warfare commanders and the hard work that the Sailors gave before, during and after deployment. “I enjoy watching folks perform the high visibility, hazardous, and difficult jobs with diligence and professionalism that makes the extraordinary seem routine,” said Pennington. “To the crew of the finest warship in the fleet – it has been an honor to serve with you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your team.”

Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell was the gust speaker for the change of command ceremony, and Captain Pennington read his orders while being relieved by Captain Bailey.

Captain Bailey, a native of Kansas and 1991 graduate of the University of Kansas, will now be in command of the Nimitz – class aircraft carrier after previous assignments at Expeditionary Strike Group Two and as the commanding officer of USS Arlington, according to officials.

“Of all of the Navy’s ceremonies, the formal change of command is one of my favorites…while the responsibility and accountability for the ship and crew can be transferred from one captain to the next, the trust and respect of the crew still has to be earned by her new captain,” said Captain Bailey. “To the men and women of this great warship, I sincerely hope to pick up where Captain Pennington left off.”

The ship is in port in Norfolk while conducting routine maintenance in preparation for the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).