Destroyer Squadron 50 Holds Change of Command Ceremony

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | June 03, 2024

MANAMA, Bahrain --

U.S. 5th Fleet’s Task Force 55/Destroyer Squadron 50, responsible for surface forces across the Middle East region, welcomed a new commander during a ceremony at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, June 3.

Capt. Patrick Murphy relieved Capt. Dave Coles as commander of the Middle East region’s forward-deployed destroyer squadron.

Coles, a San Francisco Bay Area native, assumed command of the DESRON in November.

Under Coles’ leadership, DESRON 50 provided direct support to Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 150, directing multiple maritime interdictions of vessels, seizing an estimated $128 million in illicit narcotics, denying terrorist organizations the income they need to carry out their malign activities.

He also integrated aerial and surface assets to expand maritime capabilities, coordinating the efforts of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, Air Forces Central Command, and coalition partners to provide a robust presence in the Red Sea region. These efforts resulting in 50 incident-free Bab al-Mandeb transits.

Coles also built maintenance capacity in a highly dynamic environment when he enabled the U.S. Coast Guard’s Patrol Forces Southwest Asia to execute maintenance on all five of their fast-response cutters in a forward logistics location. This kept the FRC fleet 100 percent ready for tasking.

“[Commodore Coles], thank you for leading from the front,” said Vice Adm. George Wikoff, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, and the ceremony’s presiding officer, during his remarks. “Thank you for building trust and strengthening critical partnerships throughout the region. But most of all, thank you for your passion and relentless devotion to duty which serves as an inspiration up and down the chain of command.”

In his remarks, Coles thanked the men and women of the squadron for their dedication to keeping the surface force in the Middle East ready.

“What a privilege to work alongside the ‘Desert Sailors’ of DESRON 50,” Coles said. “Our insatiable appetite for every inch of competitive combat advantage that we can generate is our North Star. Material readiness, Sailor readiness, team readiness guide us toward the ultimate aim of victory at sea if and when we are challenged. I appreciate the staff’s relentless pursuit of these goals.”

Murphy, of Lexington, Massachusetts, assumed command after serving as the deputy commodore since October. A 1999 graduate of The Citadel, he commanded the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96).

“It’s a true pleasure to come to work every day and to take care of our Sailors and ships,” Murphy told the DESRON staff in his remarks. “It’s the people that makes this job so rewarding.”

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.