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SASEBO, Japan - Capt. Richard LeBron, commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious squadron, turned over command to Capt. Greg Baker in a change-of-command ceremony aboard USS America (LHA 6), March 12.
Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, presided over the ceremony.
“It has been an honor to have served with Rich and I am humbled to have been asked to be a part of this ceremony,” said Kacher. “Rich’s accomplishments as the PHIBRON commander are nothing short of impressive. I am excited to see him moving forward with his career and looking forward to working with Greg again.”
LeBron’s tour included notable operations for PHIBRON 11 highlighted by the largest embark of F-35Bs to date with a special-purpose Marine air-ground task force, USS America’s forward-deployment to Sasebo, Japan, and participation in Valiant Shield, Cobra Gold, and multiple bilateral engagements with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Republic of Korea and Royal Australian Navy. The ships of PHIBRON 11 completed three extended periods of uninterrupted operations with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was an absolute privilege to lead this team of Sailors and Marines at an important time in our nation’s history,” LeBron said. “The professionalism, resilience, and grit of my colleagues in green and blue undoubtedly represented the United States well, conveyed our unwavering commitment to our allies, partners, and friends, and communicated our resolve to those who would aim to fracture the peace in this theater of operations.
PHIBRON 11, our ships, and our 31st MEU partners know what it means to ‘Fight and Deliver.’ I look forward to seeing my relief, Captain Baker, take the team to a whole new level of excellence and will forever remain an avid cheerleader for this team.”
Baker brings a wealth of past amphibious experience, having served aboard five amphibious ships, as well as both the staffs of PHIBRON 11 and Commander, Task Force 76.
“I am honored to be a part of the exceptional team and leading-edge warfighters found in the FDNF, and look forward to operating in such a strategically relevant and dynamic environment,” Baker said.
Baker enlisted the Navy in 1983 and received his commission through the Enlisted Commissioning Program in 1995, graduating from Maine Maritime Academy with a bachelor’s degree in Ocean Studies. He received his master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in 2007. A surface warfare officer, he served aboard USS Anchorage (LSD 36), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), as the executive officer aboard USS San Antonio (LPD 17), and as the commanding officer of USS Arlington (LPD 24) and USS Wasp (LHD 1).
LeBron’s next assignment will be as the chief of staff for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Yokosuka, Japan.
Forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, PHIBRON 11 comprises its flagship, USS America (LHA 6), as well as the amphibious transport dock ships USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and USS Green Bay (LPD 20), and the amphibious dock landing ships USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Ashland (LSD 48). Along with embarked Marines of the 31st MEU, PHIBRON 11 is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance interoperability with allies and partners, and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.