SEOUL, Republic of Korea - Rear Adm. Bill McQuilkin relieved Rear Adm. Pete Gumataotao as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea during a ceremony Sept. 9 at Collier Field House.

McQuilkin previously served in Washington D.C. as chief of staff for the Strategy and Policy division on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations.

“This morning I am grateful,” said McQuilkin. “It is always a privilege to command.”

McQuilkin said he looks forward to living in and working with the Republic of Korea during his tour.

“I am excited to be in this country and look forward to experiencing the rich culture of Korea.”

The ceremony was attended by General James D. Thurman, Commander United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Admiral Kim Sung-chan, Republic of Korea Chief of Naval Operations.

During the ceremony Thurman commented on Gumataotao’s leadership and impact on the command.

“Admiral Gumataotao was instrumental in providing ROK Navy support during recent North Korean provocations,” said Thurman. “He provided assistance in the ROK Ship Cheonan (PCC-772) salvage operations in 2010.”

Gumataotao, who is ordered to be Commander, Carrier Strike Group 11, in San Diego, welcomed McQuilkin.

“I truly wish you much success and happiness during your time here,” said Gumataotao. “I believe that the Chief of Naval Operations sent the right person for the job.”

During the ceremony Gumataotao took time to commend the Sailors and civilian staff on their many contributions to the command mission.

“I will miss you, you make me proud,” said Gumataotao. “You have been a hard working and amazing team.”

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) is the regional commander for the U.S. Navy in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and provides expertise on naval matters to area military commanders, including the Commander for the United Nations Command; the Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command; and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea. CNFK also serves as liaison to the ROK navy and the Combined Forces Commander staff in armistice and in wartime to Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan.