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YOKOSUKA, Japan - Commander, Task Force 70 held a change of command ceremony Oct. 21 at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s Benny Decker Theater.
Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly relieved Rear Adm. Will Pennington as Commander, Task Force 70, and Commander, Carrier Strike Group 5.
Pennington assumed command of Task Force 70 on Nov. 5, 2020. He led the Navy’s only permanently afloat task force, exercising operational command of forward-deployed naval forces that included the guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Shiloh (CG 67), the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51, and an expeditionary Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ).
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike group returned Oct. 16 from a deployment in both the 7th and 5th Fleet, where its air wing provided air power support to the U.S. military evacuation of Afghanistan during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, while task force personnel supported Operation Allies Refuge in the region.
The strike group most recently participated in multiple carrier operations Oct. 3 in the Philippine Sea, bringing together more than 15,000 Sailors across six nations, as Ronald Reagan joined with a force that included the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Hyuga-class helicopter destroyer JS Ise (DDH 182) and the United Kingdom’s carrier strike group (CSG 21) led by HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with this dynamic team,” said Pennington. “You have demonstrated tremendous flexibility, adaptability and resilience, and decisively demonstrated the value of forward-deployed naval forces. Your professionalism and deep integration with our vast network of allies have been, and will continue to be, the key to security and stability throughout the region.”
Rear Adm. Donnelly became the 77th commander of Task Force 70, after serving as the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea. “My thanks go out to Adm. Pennington and his great leadership of the task force,” said Donnelly. “His stewardship has ensured support to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and it is a legacy I look forward to continuing.” Donnelly is a native of Kent Island, Md., and commissioned into the Navy through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps upon graduating from Villanova University. Pennington’s next assignment is as Deputy, U.S. 10th Fleet in Fort Meade, Md.
Task Force 70 is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest forward-deployed fleet in the world, and with the help of 35 other maritime-nation allies and partners, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 70 years, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.