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Task Force 55 Holds Change of Command

By 5th Fleet Public Affairs - NAVCENT | August 01, 2021

NSA Bahrain --

Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 50 and Task Force (TF) 55 held a change of command ceremony onboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain, July 29.

Capt. Robert Francis relieved Capt. Christopher Gilbertson as commander of TF-55 in the ceremony, presided over by Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.

During his farewell speech, Gilbertson praised the efforts of TF-55 and expressed his gratitude to the team.

“I could not be more proud of the accomplishments of the TF-55 team during my command tour, in what is truly a dynamic and challenging theater. There is no doubt that this area of operations is safer due to your efforts,” said Gilbertson. “It has been a highlight of my career to be a part of this team.”

TF-55 consists of surface forces, including U.S. Navy patrol craft, U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats and independently deployed ships in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

TF-55 successes under Gilbertson included the reintroduction of Air Operations in Support of Maritime Surface Warfare (AOMSW) exercises, 10 exercises with 12 partner nations, 134 chokepoint transits, and several maritime interdictions, with seizures of nearly $23 million in illicit cargo.

After accepting command of TF-55, Francis thanked Gilbertson for turning over an impressive team.

“It is a privilege to have this opportunity to lead a command so vital to the stability of this region and the world,” said Francis. “I look forward to our continued success over the coming years and appreciate Capt. Gilbertson for handing over such an impressive team of professionals.”

The 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 is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab el Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.