By PO2 Amanda E. Brittingham
USS New York Public Affairs

Capt. Kenneth M. Coleman, native of Binghamton, New York, turned over the command of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) to Capt. Todd D. Vandegrift, a native of Albion, Indiana.

The ceremony marked the end of a very successful 18-month command tour for Coleman.  He led the crew in a successful completion of the 2015 deployment, executed a safe and efficient Ammo Offload in Yorktown, Virginia following the ship's 2015 deployment, led the crew to New York City to showcase the ship to guests and distinguished visitors during Veterans Week, and executed a safe and productive Planned Maintenance Availability period (PMA) to prepare the New York for her upcoming deployment. 

Coleman will report to Afloat Training Group Pacific in San Diego, California and will serve as the Commanding Officer.  

During the ceremony, Coleman shared his gratitude to the crew.

"How is a captain supposed to say goodbye to his crew? In some ways this is harder than anything I've ever done before," said Coleman. "Because I have loved this job, this ship and all of youâ¦my crewâ¦more than just about anything in the world."

Addressing the crew, Coleman said, "What you do onboard everyday mattersâ¦your efforts in the engineering plant, on the guns, heaving lines, or serving in the galleyâ¦all that makes a difference.  You make our ship, our crew, our Navy and Nation stronger," said Coleman. "â¦Some days the wind is calm and you will enjoy smooth sailing. On others, it's a hurricane, or a missile attack off the coast of Yemen, or a fateful Tuesday morning in downtown Manhattan. So be ready because that is what we as Naval warfighters and maritime professionals train and prepare for."

In conclusion of his speech, Coleman shared his final thoughts. "Shipmates, it has been a privilege, an honor, and the greatest experience of my life. Thank you all for everything. And as we say on the New Yorkâ¦Never Forget!"

Vandegrift has completed operational tours with Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Eight (HC-8), flying the H-46D Sea Knight, Carrier Strike Group Four (CSG-4), as an aide to Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Six (HSC-26) as the Officer-in-Charge and Department Head and then reported to HSC-28 as Executive Officer. Following his service as the Executive Assistant to Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. TENTH Fleet, Vandegrift assumed command of HSC-2, the MH-60S Fleet Replacement Squadron. He was then selected for Major Command at Sea and reported to the USS New York (LPD 21) as Executive Officer in April 2015.   

"It is difficult to put into words what it means to be part of this special ship and crew, let alone, her commanding officer," said Vandegrift. "I am honored to serve alongside you."

Vandegrift addressed the crew about the ship's mission. "â¦New York, it is our duty to prepare his great ship to once again sail into harm's way. Our focus will be the preparation for, and execution of, an overseas deployment, ready to execute with precision and lethality," he said. "we will work together and train together, as a Navy and Marine Corps team, to bring New York to the apex of combat effectiveness and demonstrate our country's resolve in the defense of freedom." 

Following the ceremony, the crew and guests enjoyed a reception and cake-cutting ceremony. 

Known for 7.4 tons of steel forged into her bow, the New York is currently undergoing an extensive PMA period projected to be completed by the end of this year. During the course of the PMA, the New York received many enhancements to her configuration, including, improvements on the Main Propulsion Diesel Engines, extensive topside preservation, and flight deck overhaul.

The New York is a floating museum that sails with pride and demonstrates this through her motto "strength forged through Sacrifice⦠Never Forget".