By Lt. Courtney Keiser, Destroyer Squadron 15 Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Capt. Christopher J. Sweeney relieved Capt. Shan M. Byrne as commodore of Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 15 during a change of command ceremony at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Aug. 7.
Byrne, CDS 15's 54th commodore, began his tour as the squadron's deputy commodore in December 2012 and assumed command April 4, 2014. Under Byrne's command, CDS 15 reached many milestones including establishing a sustainment program to ensure forward-deployed ships receive proper maintenance and repairs, formulating a distinctive program for U.S. Navy ships to seamlessly conduct tactical training with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships, and codifying a concept of operations to ensure forward-deployed ships operate in purposeful places throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
While addressing the guests at the ceremony, Byrne reminded the audience to never underestimate the power of a good idea.
"A well thought proposal including the right requirements goes a long way," said Byrne. "Some of you may have thought what I asked us to do together was crazy - but we did it and we have profoundly changed operations in this fleet. This is what our fleet leadership wants - this is what they need - change comes from the deckplates up."
The ceremony's guest speaker Commander, Battle Force U.S. 7th Fleet Rear Adm. John Alexander spoke of Byrne's leadership.
"Command at sea is the essence of our Navy and major command of a squadron of destroyers is the pinnacle of that goal," said Alexander. "We have spent over two decades preparing [Capt. Byrne] for this challenge and he has answered the call with enormous vision and leadership."
Incoming commodore, Sweeney is a native of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and a 1991 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He has served in a diverse range of sea and shore assignments.
Sweeney's sea duty assignments include numerous cruisers and destroyers deployed to the Middle East, Western Pacific, Mediterranean and South America.
Finally, he commanded the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) from 2009-2010, deploying twice to the Arabian Gulf in support of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I look forward to sailing the Western Pacific with the finest destroyers in the fleet," said Sweeney. "I'm thrilled to be the commodore of this impressive destroyer squadron; it's a fabulous group of ships and by far, the best group of Americans I've ever served with."
CDS 15 is the Navy's largest forward-deployed destroyer squadron; responsible for readiness, administration, and tactical control of seven Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers as well as all destroyers deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
CDS 15's commodore serves as immediate superior in command (ISIC) of ships permanently assigned to the squadron, sea combat commander (SCC) for Battle Force U.S. 7th Fleet and the George Washington Carrier Strike Group, as well as commander, Theater Surface Combatant Group 70.15, the executive agent for Theater Surface Warfare in the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR.