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O'Kane Changes Command at Sea

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070513-02
Release Date: 5/13/2007 8:36:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Joseph R. Vincent, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

USS O'KANE, At Sea (NNS) -- The crew of USS O'Kane (DDG 77) held a change of command ceremony on the ship’s fantail May 10 in the Persian Gulf.

The ceremony was a formal recognition of the transfer of command from Cmdr. Tom Druggan to Cmdr. James Duke.

“Cmdr. Duke is one of the finest Naval officers I’ve worked with,” said Capt. Michael Salvato, commander, Destroyer Squadron 21. “I don’t say that lightly. He makes command look easy, and that is not an easy task.”

Duke assumed command in October 2005. While aboard O'Kane, he successfully led the destroyer across more then 60,000 nautical miles, conducted 39 underway replenishments taking aboard more than 5.1 million gallons of fuel, and ensured O’Kane’s dry-dock availability was completed on time and one-half million dollars under budget. Duke was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for superior performance as O’Kane’s commanding officer.

“To live up to the legacy of Duke, which is the legacy of the ship, is a tall order,” said Druggan. “He is one of the finest officers this country has produced and has left a great ship and a great crew.”

O'Kane will be Druggan’s first command at sea. He has served on five destroyers during his naval career and was the combat systems officer previously on the precommissioning unit O’Kane.

“It’s an honor and a special privilege to command this ship because of the great crew, and also because I was a plank owner,” said Druggan. “The at-sea change of command ceremony was great. There are echoes of it that go deep into U.S. Naval history.”

“The ship and the crew looked magnificent,” said Duke. “It was a wonderful experience, and I couldn’t be happier with the ship and its performance over the last 19 months.”

Duke will report next to commander, Carrier Strike Group 10 as the surface operations officer.

“I’m the new guy,” said Druggan. “The other 300 crew members, who have provided operational excellence, are still here. There are many great Sailors who will help me do my job.”

O’Kane continues its mission supporting maritime security operations (MSO) in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists the use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

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