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SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Lt. Andrew Bergstrom became the Navy’s first officer to assume command of one of the Coastal Riverine Force’s new Mark VI patrol boat command-at-sea billets during a ceremony in April onboard Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.
Capt. Michael Ray, Coastal Riverine Group One commodore, provided the keynote remarks for the ceremony.
“We have long operated small craft and patrol boats, but the Mark VI is a significant leap forward in terms of combat power and ability to shape the battlespace. This is not a force protection platform, but a small surface combatant with extraordinary capability to take the fight to the enemy, to conduct surveillance, or to support other warfare communities and amplify their capabilities,” said Ray. “The Navy has decided to single out the Mark VI in the manner reserved for its most prized platforms, by installing an officer in command at sea. From today forward, this is not just a hull, and the team who operates it not just a unit. From today forward this crew will be entrusted to an officer carefully screened, extensively trained, to expected to lead and win in combat.”
As Coastal Riverine Squadron Three Alpha Company, Crew 2 Commander, Bergstrom will be responsible for commanding one of the Navy’s new cutting-edge Mark VI patrol boats and will deploy with the craft and crew.
"I am thrilled to be assuming command of the Mark VI patrol boat. It is on the cutting edge of the Navy's forces, and provides a unique opportunity to learn, grow, and make an impact on the Navy,” said Bergstrom. “As a lieutenant, this is an opportunity in leadership and professional growth I would not get anywhere else."
The new Mark VI patrol boat command-at-sea billets are one of two new opportunities for Mark VI leadership in the Coastal Riverine Force. Mid-level surface warfare officers can now also serve as Mark VI company commanders, commanding three of the boats.
Ray said that command-at-sea opportunities like this are rare for junior officers. He said, “Today marks the day when we honor the firm commitment to build the MKVI program upon a foundation of leadership worthy of the platform’s promise. Andrew and his contemporaries are the most junior officers the Navy has entrusted with command at sea in generations. The pin he will soon wear on his chest symbolizes all of the same authority, responsibility and accountability as the pin I wear.”
The new Mark VI command positions were created to provide the dedicated and resourceful leadership required to safely maintain and fight the advanced patrol craft that continues to transform the Coastal Riverine Force through extended reach and increased combat power .
"I wanted to join the CRF community because it provides a new challenge and opportunity for me. The mission areas and small team dynamics differ from what I have been exposed to so far serving on traditional surface platforms,” said Bergstrom. “These new opportunities will allow me to grow as a leader and pay dividends as I progress in my career."
Bergstrom, originally from Dallas, Texas, graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in biology and chemistry before commissioning as a surface warfare officer in November 2013. Bergstrom has completed deployments in the 5th, 6th, and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility while serving as the main propulsion officer onboard USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) and the navigator onboard USS Lake Erie (CG 70).
Members of the Coastal Riverine Force conduct missions in support of port and harbor security, maritime force protection, high-value asset security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and training/partnership exercises with foreign nations.