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USS Ronald Reagan welcomes new commanding officer in at-sea ceremony

10 September 2018

From MC2 Brandon Martin, USS Ronald Reagan

Capt. Patrick Hannifin relieved Capt. Michael “Buzz” Donnelly as commanding officer of the forward-deployed aircraft carrier.

PHILIPPINE SEA - After serving more than two years as commanding officer of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Capt. Michael “Buzz” Donnelly was relieved by Capt. Patrick Hannifin during a change of command ceremony in the ship’s hangar bay, Sept. 10.

"Serving as commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan has been one of the most exciting and rewarding times of my career,” said Donnelly. “The crew of the United States' only forward-deployed aircraft carrier is comprised of some of the finest Sailors in our Navy, Sailors who rise up every day to tackle a very fast-paced and challenging operating environment. I could not be more proud of the hard work put forth by our Sailors, who make America's Flagship the finest in the fleet."

During Donnelly’s tenure from April 2016 to September 2018, Ronald Reagan participated in various exercises in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility. Exercises such as Keen Sword, Talisman Saber, Maritime Counter Special Operations Exercise, Annual Exercise, and Tri-Carrier operations served to project presence in the area and increase interoperability with friends and allies in the region.

Rear Adm. Karl Thomas, commander, Task Force (CTF) 70 praised Donnelly’s leadership and the crew’s performance under his command.

“Buzz, you have every right to be proud of your many accomplishments and the team’s performance. The team has won countless awards, adapted to changing real world tensions and answered every call,” said Thomas. “I know you worked tirelessly to achieve a team of winners. It was apparent to me the moment I walked aboard your ship. They are a combat ready crew, and in fact, there is no more combat ready carrier in the fleet.”

Hannifin is a native of San Diego, California, and was commissioned in 1991 after receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Education for Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania (NROTC) and Masters of Arts in International Relations from the University of San Diego. He is also a graduate of the Joint Advanced Warfighting School and the United States Air Force Test Pilot School. Hannifin has over 2,800 flight hours in 33 different aircraft.

"I am incredibly honored to serve among patriots aboard USS Ronald Reagan in our Forward Deployed Naval Forces,” said Hannifin. “As one of our nation's most visible symbols of resolve and lethal instruments of war, USS Ronald Reagan looks forward to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region for years to come."

Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.

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