USS Gerald R. Ford holds change of command ceremony

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. — A change of command ceremony was held for the USS Gerald R. Ford on Monday to relieve one captain and welcome another.

Capt. John J. Cummings relieved Capt. Richard C. McCormack and assumed duties as the commanding officer of the USS Gerald R. Ford.

The ceremony held at Naval Station Norfolk’s Vista Point Catering and Conference Center was attended by distinguished visitors, family, friends and crew, according to a news release from the Navy.

McCormack assumed command of the USS Gerald R. Ford in April 2016. The Winchester, Massachusetts, native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1990.

McCormack was part of guiding the Ford through many of the ship’s first during his nearly two-and-a-half year tour with it, leading the Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier through delivery, commissioning and a nearly yearlong test and evaluation process.

“They are the heart and soul of this ship,” said McCormack of USS Gerald R. Ford’s crew. “These men and women are from all walks of life and help close the gap between available resources and what our mission requires. They do it every day with integrity, ingenuity and hard work. Great job!”

McCormack will now be leaving to become the next Chief of Staff at U.S. Naval Air Force Atlantic.

McCormack’s replacement, Capt. Cummings, is also a native of Massachusetts and is a 1990 graduate of Bates College.

Cummings becomes the third commanding officer of the Ford, following previous leadership assignments as the executive and commanding officer of the VFA-11 “Red Rippers” aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); as executive officer of USS Nimitz (CVN 68); and as commanding officer of USS Anchorage
(LPD 23), according to the Navy.

“Our job, while not simple, is very straightforward,” said Cummings. “Everything we do will focus on preparing our ship for its first deployment.The days of Pre-commissioning Unit, Floating Building 78, commissioning and shakedown are over. That was the past, we need to focus on the future. We are ‘Warship 78,’ and we will get our ship ready to go over the horizon with our airwing and destroyer squadron, and operate from the most technologically advanced ship in the world to do our nation’s bidding with integrity, strength, and ferocity. ”

The USS Gerald R. Ford is the first new aircraft carrier to be designed by the Navy in more than 40-years.

The ship is currently undergoing a 12-month post-shakedown availability and maintenance period at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, said the Navy.