NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif., –
Carrier Strike Group Fifteen (CSG-15) held a change of command ceremony aboard Naval Air Station North Island at the CSG-15 headquarters building on June 11.
Rear Adm. James Kirk, from Hershey, Penn., relieved Rear Adm. Dave Welch, from Peoria, Ill., to become the 75th commander since CSG-15’s establishment in 1930. Vice Adm. Stephen Koehler, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, presided over the ceremony.
The ceremony also marks Welch’s retirement from his 34-year career as a surface warfare officer.
“To my country, represented by our flag and the flags of all states in the Union arrayed around us: thank you for the opportunity to serve,” said Welch. “Thank you for showing me the humbling privilege of being part of something far greater than self.”
During Welch’s 23 months in command, he led CSG-15 during 16 integrated and advanced training exercises, focused on the mission of mentoring, training and assessing West Coast-based deploying carrier strike groups (CSGs), amphibious ready groups (ARGs), and independently-deploying ships.
Welch expressed his gratitude to his shipmates, both past and present. “To the thousands of Sailors with whom I have sailed and served…thank you for your incredible commitment to serve and for your indomitable spirit. Each Sailor is unique and brings diversity and value to our Navy. You represent our strength, and our strategic advantage.”
Kirk takes command of CSG-15 having recently served as the Commander of Carrier Strike Group 11, based out of Naval Station Everett, Wash. A 1990 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a Masters in National Security Studies from the U.S. Naval War College and the U.S. Army War College, Kirk has served in a variety of afloat and ashore billets as a surface warfare officer, including deputy commander and chief of staff for Joint Warfare Center, Allied Command Transformation and commanding officer for both USS De Wert (FFG 45) and USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000).
“I believe deeply in our duty to the fleet, and in your ability to create the crucible in which our deploying teams strengthen the shield with which they defend this nation and sharpen the sword to strike down its enemies when called upon and directed by our civilian leaders,” said Kirk. “It’s a privilege to join you in this essential mission.”
CSG-15’s mission is to direct, execute, mentor and assess academic at-sea live synthetic integrated training of carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups, amphibious ready groups, surface independent deployers, allies and other designated groups, enabling them to operate in integrated, joint and coalition environments in the conduct of combatant and operation commander tasking.