SASEBO, Japan -- Capt. Ken Ward, sixth commanding officer of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship, USS America (LHA 6), turned over command to Capt. Shockey Snyder in a ceremony aboard America, April 7.
The ceremony was held on the ship’s flight deck, with Capt. Greg Baker, commodore of Amphibious Squadron 11, presiding.
Ward’s tour included major exercises and operations for America and embarked elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, including Talisman Sabre (TS) 21 and Large Scale Global Exercise (LSGE) 21, as well as bilateral cooperative deployments with the Japan Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces, the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Netherlands Navy, and the British Royal Navy’s UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG-21) led by HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).
During Talisman Sabre and LSGE, America refueled five ships from the U.S. and three partner nations in a four-week span, flexing the capability to sustain and extend time on station for partners and allies. America capped off the year with a first-in-class strategic port visit to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni.
“The pace has been fast and furious, and I’ve asked a lot of the folks assembled in ranks here today … but you rose to the occasion and exceeded expectations at every turn,” said Ward, addressing the ship’s crew. “Most COs leave a tour and can isolate that one event that defined who their crew is during a tour, but you guys have just crushed every task and kicked down so many doors, my list of your outstanding accomplishments is vast … truly setting the standard for the world’s navies.
"While I would never ask you to rest on your laurels," Ward added, "I do ask that you take a moment today, breathe, and enjoy the view from the summit. I love and am proud of each and every one of you. You made America the great command that it is.”
Snyder, who assumed command as part of the Navy surface force’s “fleet-up” model, had served as the ship’s executive officer since November 2020.
“It has been truly humbling to see the tremendous work that the America crew puts in every day and how successful the ship has been,” said Snyder. “I am honored to be able to continue to work alongside these men and women as the commanding officer.”
Snyder, America’s seventh commanding officer, graduated from the United States Naval Academy and received his commission in 1997. A surface warfare officer, Snyder served at sea aboard USS Boone (FFG 28), USS Ashland (LSD 48), USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) and USS Vicksburg (CG 69). He commanded USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60), USS Sioux City (LCS 11) (Blue Crew), and Naval Surface Squadron (SURFRON) 5, which included 14 patrol craft and mine countermeasure ships forward-deployed to Manama, Bahrain. His shore tours include Naval Recruiting District New England, as well as the staffs of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet.
Ward’s next assignment will be as American Legation U.S. Naval Attaché to Argentina at the U.S. Embassy, Buenos Aires.
America, the lead ship of the America Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance interoperability with allies and partners, and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.