New leader takes helm at Naval Surface Group Western Pacific

18 June 2019

From Naval Surface Group Western Pacific

Capt. Colby Howard relieved Capt. D. Wilson Marks as commander during a ceremony in Yokosuka, Japan, June 14.

YOKOSUKA, Japan - Capt. Colby Howard relieved Capt. D. Wilson Marks as Commander, Naval Surface Group Western Pacific (CNSGWP) during a ceremony, June 14, at U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka.

Officially established in April 2018, CNSGWP's mission is to oversee the Forward Deployed Naval Force Japan (FDNF-J) surface ship manning, maintenance, training, and certification. To date, CNSGWP has managed 14 selected restricted availabilities (SRAs) and four surface incremental availabilities (SIAs), representing stronger SURFOR oversight on the pier in Yokosuka.

“It has been an incredible honor to serve the waterfront. I am grateful for this opportunity to make a lasting impact on FDNF-J surface forces,” said Marks. “The enduring processes and relationships that we have established will continue to benefit our Sailors, and ships into the future. I have been inspired every single day by the knowledge, experience, and commitment to readiness of the men and women in Naval Surface Group Western Pacific.”

During Marks' tenure, CNSGWP has continued to refine its role on the waterfront to ensure that all ships reach and maintain maximum reliability and lethality. Marks has instituted programs and processes that will have a lasting impact on the waterfront long after he is gone.

“There have been many significant changes over the past year and a half which will have a lasting effect on the surface force, specifically the Pacific Fleet,” said Vice Adm. Richard Brown, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Making these changes has not been a singular effort, it took a team of people who saw the significance in making our crews excellent and ensuring our status as the premiere Surface Navy in the world for years to come.”

“Capt. Wilson Marks exemplifies the warfighting ethos of the surface fleet and his example has resonated through the entire Seventh Fleet,” continued Brown. “Everyone in NSGWP should be extremely proud of what they are doing to contribute to our nation’s security.”

Marks, a native of Lynchburg, Virginia, is a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. In addition, he earned a Master's Degree in National Security Affairs and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, as well as a master's degree in National Strategic Studies from the National War College. His next assignment is in Washington D.C. working for the chief of naval operations.

“I am pleased to pass this command to a leader respected and known throughout the Surface Forces,” said Marks. “His at-sea experience and many command tours make him the right person to lead this organization into the future.”

Howard, a native of Norton, Virginia, becomes the third commanding officer of CNSGWP. He earned a bachelor's degree from Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia., and was commissioned an Ensign in July 1992. Additionally, Howard earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business, and is a graduate of the Joint Forces Staff College and the Norwegian National War College. Howard's most recent assignment was commanding officer of USS Wasp (LHD 1) forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue the important work that Capt. Marks and his team have so tirelessly devoted themselves to,” said Howard. “This command provides the opportunity to ensure the lasting culture of excellence envisioned by Vice Adm. Brown in the FDNF Surface Forces is maintained as the standard by which we operate. I am honored to be coming aboard at such an important time for our Navy, and look forward to working with the men and women of Naval Surface Group Western Pacific, and commands throughout the region, to prepare ships to own the fight in Seventh Fleet.”

Based in Yokosuka, Japan, CNSGWP is Naval Surface Force Pacific’s executive agent for manning, maintenance, and training of FDNF-J surface ships. CNSGWP is part of an overall effort to prepare crews to fight and win in blue-water, fleet-on-fleet combat, as well as build winning, high-end war fighting crews with high-end war fighting capability.

In addition to the establishment of CNSGWP, CNSP is implementing several other actions to improve safety and readiness of the surface fleet, including conducting Ready-for-Sea Assessments to ensure appropriate manning levels, training certification, and equipment status for every operational ship at sea, as outlined in the Readiness Reform Oversight Committee report to Congress.

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