In the file photo, USSS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) transits the Pacific Ocean after transferring personnel to an MH-53E Sea Dragon from Helicopter Mine Countermeasure Squadron 14 "Vanguard" (HM 14) during Operation Tomodachi. Harpers Ferry, will be returing to San Diego after swapping crews with USS Germantown in Sasebo, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Josh Huebner)

SASEBO, Japan - USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) swapped commanding officers and crew during an exchange of command ceremony April 21, at Fleet Activities Sasebo.

Cmdr. Mike Crary took command of Harpers Ferry and, after a short period of training and crew acclimation, will return to San Diego and fill rotational force assignments for Commander, U.S. Third Fleet. Cmdr. Antonio Hull and his crew will remain in Sasebo with the newly-upgraded Germantown, adding new capabilities to a crew experienced with operating around Japan and the Western Pacific region, to support U.S. 7th Fleet, and Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet tasking.

“Having newly-modernized ships forward deployed is essential to improving the capabilities of our amphibious force and reinforces our long-standing commitment to allies and regional partners,” said Commander, Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, Rear Adm. J. Scott Jones,

Germantown is the third, and most recent, landing dock ship to complete her mid-life upgrade maintenance, upgrading systems such as diesel engines, engineering control systems, compressed air systems, and all electric steam systems. Hull swaps such as these are part of Surface Forces Pacific’s plan to update forward deployed Naval forces in Japan, and to keep our most capable assets forward deployed.