New Commodore Takes Command of Task Force 56

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | April 05, 2023

MANAMA, Bahrain --

U.S. 5th Fleet’s task force responsible for expeditionary combat forces operating in the Middle East welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony at the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain, April 5.

Capt. Oliver Herion relieved Capt. Joseph “Karl” Haywood as the commander of Task Force 56 during a ceremony attended by leaders and members of U.S. 5th Fleet.

Haywood assumed command of Task Force 56 in February 2021. During his two-year tenure, he led more than 800 Sailors, Soldiers and civilians in eight subordinate task groups deployed across the Middle East.

Expeditionary combat forces specialize in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), naval coastal warfare, naval construction, expeditionary intelligence and expeditionary logistics support. Under Haywood’s leadership, Task Force 56 personnel participated in more than 20 joint and combined training exercises with regional partners.

“Thank you for trusting me,” said Haywood to his staff. “Your support and professionalism has been beyond reproach.

Haywood also led logistics coordination and planning during U.S. 5th Fleet’s support for Operation Allies Refuge in 2021, which assisted the safe evacuation of more than 7,000 people from Afghanistan to the United States. U.S. 5th Fleet provided the evacuees meals, entertainment, short-term lodging and medical care during a temporary stop in Bahrain.  

Herion assumes command of Task Force 56 after most recently completing a tour at Joint Special Operations Command based in North Carolina. He has previously deployed with various EOD mobile units to the Indo-Pacific, Africa, Europe and Middle East regions.

“It’s great to be back in the 5th Fleet of the world’s finest Navy,” said Herion. “We will continue the coordination, the integration and the interoperability that Capt. Haywood fostered.”

The U.S. 5th Fleet operating area includes 21 countries, the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandeb and Suez Canal.