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CAIRNS, Australia - Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas Jr. relieved Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift as commander, U. S. 7th Fleet in a change of command ceremony on board the flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), July 31 in Cairns.
"The allies, partners and friends of 7th Fleet should know that as the transition of command of the 7th Fleet occurs, our commitment to this region remains as strong today as it has throughout our 70 year history,” said Swift. “Vice Adm. Thomas takes command of a ready force comprised of the finest naval assets and people the Navy has to offer. Through his experienced leadership, that force will only get stronger."
U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey L. Bleich, keynote speaker, praised Swift for his outstanding leadership of the U.S. 7th Fleet during his tenure as commander.
“Admiral Swift you have advanced this great tradition with dignity, with strength and with an ease that ensures us all that you’ll be right mate,” said Bleich. “The 7th Fleet, the alliance with Australia and the region are all stronger and better for your service and so am I, and so is each and every person that has had the privilege of serving with you.”
Since Sept. 2011, Swift oversaw U.S. naval operations in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, encompassing more than 48 million square miles of the Western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The area includes 35 maritime countries and the world's five largest foreign armed forces - China, Russia, India, North Korea and Republic of Korea. Five of the seven U.S. Mutual Defense Treaties are with countries in the area - Republic of the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Japan and Thailand.
"I am envious of those Sailors that will benefit from his leadership as he seizes the opportunities that lie ahead," said Swift about Thomas taking command.
Thomas assumed command of 7th Fleet following a tour as chief of staff, J5, on the Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
“It’s a privilege to return to 7th Fleet and serve with the finest Sailors in the Navy,” said Thomas. “The work we do and the relationships we build here provide security and stability to the entire region.”
Swift’s next assignment will be as director, Navy Staff, N09B, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
There are over 45,000 sailors, 100 ships and submarines, and over 200 aircraft in the 7th Fleet. This includes forces operating from bases in Japan and Guam and rotationally-deployed forces based in the United States. Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, is embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. The flagship commands and controls the fleet and fosters military-to-military relationships through scheduled port visits and military exercises.