Destroyer Squadron 50 Holds Change of Command Ceremony

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | November 02, 2023

MANAMA, Bahrain --

Capt. David S. Coles assumed command of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 50 from Capt. Anthony L. Webber during a change-of-command ceremony Nov. 2 held at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Headquarters aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

Webber led DESRON 50, which serves as Surface Warfare Task Force for NAVCENT, since November 2022. He also commanded Combined Task Force 153 as part of the Combined Maritime Forces. In that role, Webber was responsible for an international task force maintaining maritime security in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

"The Navy has for many years sent top-tier leaders to DESRON 50," said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. "It's no coincidence that under Capt. Webber's leadership, the squadron's value manifested itself daily, filling capability gaps and moving the ball forward with valued partners in the region. Now, command of DESRON 50 goes from one superstar to another under Capt. Coles, and the team's record of success will no doubt continue."

During his time in command, Webber oversaw 11 patrol force ships, 10 destroyers, a littoral combat ship, and the U.S. Coast Guard Advanced Interdiction Team to interdict, disrupt, and deter illicit activities counter to vital U.S. interests. His leadership was critical during three weapon interdiction missions, significantly disrupting malign activity in the region. DESRON 50 also provided support to the evacuation efforts in Sudan, alongside seven other nations, assisting in the safe evacuation of more than 2,500 personnel, including 872 American citizens.

Webber said he couldn’t have accomplished this on his own.

“The successes of this past year are a direct reflection of the Sailors and Coast Guardsmen I was honored to lead,” said Webber. “I could not be prouder of the entire team and their relentless pursuit to get after it. As America’s DESRON, they are the heart and soul of C5F.”

Coles assumes command after serving as DESRON 50’s deputy commodore since last November. A career surface warfare officer, Coles served on a variety of ships, including command of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) and Patrol Coastal Crew Bravo, serving aboard USS Monsoon (PC 4), USS Chinook (PC 9), and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12).

“The women and men of our task force remain ready, resilient, and reliable,” he said. “We will continue to ensure we’re prepared to respond and support NAVCENT’s efforts to maintain freedom of the seas and regional security.”

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water space and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al-Mandeb.