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Boxer Conducts Change of Command At End of Nine-Month Deployment

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070524-02
Release Date: 5/24/2007 9:02:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) James Bartels, USS Boxer Public Affairs

USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- Capt. Matthew J. McCloskey relieved Capt. Bruce W. Nichols as USS Boxer’s (LHD 4) commanding officer (CO) during a change of command ceremony aboard Boxer while in Pearl Harbor May 23. The ceremony was during the ship’s last stop before returning to its home port of San Diego, concluding a nine-month Western Pacific deployment.

“Throughout this tour, I’ve learned to have a great faith in people, in human character, in the resilience of people and their willingness to get a job done,” said Nichols. “I have never been taken care of by a crew better than Boxer, and I appreciate it.”

Nichols assumed command of Boxer in December 2005. Under his leadership, Boxer participated in joint and multinational exercises in the Western Pacific, including Exercise Malabar 2006, the first time that a U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group participated in the exercise.

The success of the multi-national exercise helped strengthen international ties between American, Canadian and Indian armed forces. After the completion of Malabar, Boxer entered 5th Fleet’s area of responsibility and helped provide security for Iraq’s economically vital oil platforms as well as international waters for commercial shipping and transit.

Boxer’s role in maritime security operations help set the conditions for security and stability in the North Persian Gulf and protect Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. Upon leaving 5th Fleet, Nichols successfully led the ship through its Unit Level Training Assessment-Sustainment inspection prior to turning over the command of the ship to McCloskey.

“I enjoyed the chance to play with the crew and to work with them,” added Nichols. “I’m going to miss this ship. This has been a really defining tour for me, and I’ve had a great, great time.”

McCloskey, a native of Philadelphia, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982. He comes to Boxer directly after serving as the ship’s executive officer. Prior to serving on Boxer he was commanding officer of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HSL) 41.

“Taking over for Capt. Nichols will be a smooth transition because we saw eye-to-eye on almost everything,” said McCloskey. “I am excited about working with such a professional crew, and we will continue getting our mission done with the same Boxer flair.”

McCloskey’s tours of duty include HSL 35, USS Fletcher (DD 992), USS Paul F. Foster (DD 964), HSL 43, USS John Young (DD 973), USS Saipan (LHA 2) and served as executive and commanding officer of HSL 51.

After the ceremony a reception was held in the ship’s wardroom, where the wardroom said goodbye to Nichols. Immediately following the reception, Nichols departed the ship.

Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) is comprised of Boxer, USS Dubuque (LPD 8), USS Comstock (LSD 45), USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS Howard (DDG 83), and USS Bunker Hill (CG 52). BOXESG also includes Amphibious Squadron 5, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Coast Guard Cutter Midgett (WHEC 726) and Canadian Frigate HMCS Ottawa (FFH 341).

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