MANAMA, Bahrain -- The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Dextrous (MCM 13) held a change of command ceremony while moored pier side at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Oct. 2.
Lt. Cmdr. Robert J. Toohig Jr., the executive officer of Dextrous, relieved Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey T. Chewning as commanding officer. Naval Forces Central Command Deputy Commander Rear Adm. Paul J. Schlise spoke at the ceremony, highlighting Chewning’s achievements and offering words of praise and encouragement for the Navy’s newest commanding officer and his crew.
“Your work is critical, the hours are long and the risks are real, but your efforts do not go unnoticed. You are out here on the forward edge, the backbone of 5th Fleet, and your performance has been nothing short of outstanding,” said Schlise. “In accordance with the high standard you’ve set, I look forward to more great things from Team Dextrous, this outstanding crew and her new commanding officer.”
Under Chewning’s 28 months of leadership, Dextrous conducted extensive mine warfare operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman. In the span of eight months in 2017, Chewning and his crew conducted eight international exercises and operations including U.S./U.K. MCMEX 17-1 and 17-2, Artemis Trident, Khunjar Haad, East Dolphin, Neptune Shield, Neptune Ovela and Red Dagger II. Dextrous’s crew executed many operations at sea, including four Strait of Hormuz transits, three astern refueling evolutions and earned the Battle Efficiency “E” in 2016.
Chewning attributed all of Dextrous’s accomplishments to the ship’s Sailors.
“You men have taught me what sacrifice means, day in and day out,” said Chewning. “You’ve taught me that no one cares more about Dextrous than you. Dextrous has operated further, longer and with less manning than any time in recent history, and the reason Dextrous has been able to do so much with so little, is you, the crew.”
Toohig Jr. becomes Dextrous’s commanding officer following a tour as the Combat Systems Officer of Destroyer Squadron 21, based in San Diego. Upon taking command, Toohig Jr. thanked Chewning for his leadership, and assured him that Dextrous and its crew would continue to persevere.
“I look forward to continuing the high standard of excellence that we have maintained over the last year,” said Toohig Jr. “I could not have asked for a better commanding officer or a better ship.”
Dextrous is one of four MCMs forward-deployed to Manama, Bahrain, and is assigned to Commander, Naval Surface Squadron (CNSS) 5.
CNSS 5 oversees coastal patrol and mine countermeasures ships in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.