(Via Ho’okele News)
MC1 Daniel Barker
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii
Capt. Christopher Bushnell relieved Capt. Wallace Lovely as commander of Destroyer Squadron 31 (CDS 31) during a change of command ceremony Jan. 10 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Lovely assumed command July 31, 2012. During his command tour, CDS 31 led Pacific Partnership 2013 and participated in numerous bilateral exercises with 14 foreign countries. These multi-national humanitarian and operational exercises demonstrate the distinction with which Lovely served during his tour.
Lovely is scheduled for transfer to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, U. S. 4th Fleet, to serve as chief of staff.
Speaking about his tour, Lovely said, “What a privilege this tour has been, working alongside over 2,200 Sailors from the seven ships of Ke Koa O Ke Kai. I have seen the future of our Navy in the eyes of DESRON 31 Sailors and it is bright. What a great team.”
Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, was a featured speaker for the ceremony.
“With this change of command today, we’re also experiencing a change in the region, in our theatre, in this AOR,” Williams said.
“This change of command, I think, is actually part of a greater strategic initiative that Adm. Harris is leading, which is what we call our rebalance here in the Pacific. The rebalance to the Pacific brings more ships, greater warfighting capability and improved efficiency to the waterfront. The initiatives and experiences that Wally’s helped lead and the friendships and associations that he’s made are the key reasons why it’s hard for him to let go,” he said.
Bushnell is a native of Westminster, Calif. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1988 with a bachelor of science in oceanography and physics. Bushnell has served aboard cruisers, destroyers and frigates in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.
He previously served as commanding officer of USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), earning Commander, Destroyer Squadron 21′s Battle Effectiveness Award for calendar year 2007 as well as two consecutive COMPACFLT Golden Anchor Awards for Retention Excellence.
“I am humbled to stand before you and eager to move forward with the responsibility and task that I have been given to lead over 2,000 Sailors and seven – soon to be nine – billion-dollar destroyers,” Bushnell said.
“Over the last 18 months as deputy, I’ve observed the same things as many other Navy officers have in our last 238 years.
Whether it was on 16-gun ships of the line; whether our ships were under sail, steam, diesel or gas-turbine propulsion; on dreadnaughts, frigates, destroyers and cruisers-it isn’t the radar, the sonar, the guns or missiles that are our most powerful weapon,” he said.
“It’s the fighting spirit, drive and know-how of the American blue jacket. Thank you for volunteering to serve, and I look forward to the awesome opportunity and challenge and responsibility to lead you,” he said.
Bushnell has served on the Navy staff and joint staff at the Pentagon, as well as serving as chairman of the seamanship and navigation department at the U.S. Naval Academy. He holds a master’s degree in systems technology – Joint Command, Control and Communication (JC3) from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif.
He is a graduate of the Naval War College, where he was awarded a master of arts degree in national security and strategic studies. Bushnell was deputy commodore, Destroyer Squadron 31 since July 2012.
Bushnell has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal (five awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards) as well as various unit and campaign awards.
CDS 31 is the immediate superior in command (ISIC) for USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Hopper (DDG 70), USS O’Kane (DDG 77), USS Chaffee (DDG 90), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Halsey (DDG 97), USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) and is scheduled to gain USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) and USS Preble (DDG 88) in mid-2014.
As ISIC, COMDESRON 31 is responsible for the direct oversight of the training, maintenance and readiness of these seven surface combatants and also plans and conducts sea exercises to develop integrated skills for deploying ships.