In a time-honored naval tradition, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 held a change of command ceremony aboard USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) in port Naval Station Norfolk, Jun. 17.
Surrounded by family, friends, staff, and crew, Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman relieved Rear Adm. Craig Clapperton and assumed duties as Commander, CSG-12.
Clapperton, a native of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Pennsylvania University, assumed command in May 2020 and led the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) through many milestones, as the first GRFCSG commander. During his one year tour, Clapperton led 7,500 Sailors across 20 commands in developing plans to operationalize GRFCSG, including the planning, scheduling, and execution of seven Independent Steaming Events that incorporated CSG integrated operations.
During the ceremony, Clapperton remarked that there has been a major maturation of the Gerald R. Ford, with significant progress, not just as an aircraft carrier that can launch and recover aircraft - which Ford has done, going from just over 700 catapult launches and arrested landings to over 8,000 - but from the perspective of a flagship, and exercising the CSG’s command and control capability.
“With each underway on Ford we increased complexity of the evolutions we executed with all warfare commanders, in all domains,” said Clapperton. “Because of the work of this team here, we’ve accelerated Ford’s timeline towards operational employment by 18 months. I am honored to be part of the first team to demonstrate Ford as a revolutionary step forward in aircraft carrier capability.”
Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander, U.S Second Fleet, served as the event’s guest speaker, and remarked on how Clapperton’s leadership enabled tremendous progress on Ford over the past year.
“Rear Adm. Clapperton’s leadership ensured the Ford continued to meet each milestone critical to the success of the newest aircraft carrier joining the Fleet,” said Lewis. “Congratulations on an extremely successful tour. At every turn you have exceeded all expectations and I have no doubt that you will continue to lead at the highest levels for your follow-on tours.”
Before reading his orders, Clapperton thanked his wife and kids for their support and announced that he will be returning to U.S. Fleet Cyber Command as Commander of Combined Joint Task Force, Cyber, Tenth Fleet.
Huffman, a 1989 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and son of a career naval officer, takes charge of CSG-12 following a decorated career of previous leadership assignments to include Executive Officer (XO) and instructor with Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122, the last operational XO for USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Commanding Officer (CO) of USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and CO of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), and most recently as the Director of Operations and Plans at Chief of Naval Operations (N3).
“I am excited and honored to join the FORD Strike Group team,” said Huffman. “I look forward to building upon the momentum that Rear Adm. Clapperton began, and getting the world's most capable strike group ready for operational employment.”
CSG-12 is the immediate superior in command of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) a first-in-class aircraft carrier, and the first new aircraft carrier designed in over 40 years, as well as Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and USS Normandy (CG 60).
For more news from Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, visit www.dvidshub.net/csg12.