NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Capt. J. Patrick Thompson relieved Capt. Cassidy Norman as commanding officer of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during a change of command ceremony held May 18, 2023. The ceremony took place as Stennis continues its Refueling Complex and Overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding.

Norman assumed command of the seventh Nimitz-class aircraft carrier December 2020, and successfully led her through the early phases of RCOH and out of the COVID-19 pandemic.Norman thanked the crew for their dedication as they continue to work toward getting the ship redelivered to the fleet.

“Despite the dynamic challenges, I absolutely enjoyed serving on, and leading, Team 74,” said Norman. “I’m honored to have served this team, giving John C. Stennis its second half of life, and also by working to make the RCOH experience better for Sailors, both now and in the decades to come.”

The ceremony’s presiding officer and former commanding officer of John C. Stennis (2018-2020), Rear Adm. Randall Peck, praised Norman’s leadership during his time in command. Peck then welcomed a familiar face, Capt. Thompson, who served as executive officer during Peck’s tenure of commanding John C. Stennis.

“Captain Norman has left his imprint on the crew and they know what their captain expects from them and understand what is required to get Stennis back in the fight,” said Peck. “To Captain Thompson, you were groomed for this job. No one understands the past, present and

future of John C. Stennis like you do. Congratulations as you take command in the second chapter of a storied history in the decade of influence.”

During his previous time onboard, Thompson saw first-hand the capabilities of John C. Stennis as it completed its most recent deployment prior to entering RCOH. During his remarks, Thompson explained how he’s excited to see a similar characteristic present throughout the crew.

“I can’t tell you how good it is to be back,” said Thompson. “While the ship looks a little different than it did in October of 2020, the culture and camaraderie is the same. The same spirit that allowed this crew to clean sweep all of the major awards and set records for cleanliness, material condition, and the 3M program remains here. Nothing makes me happier.”

Thompson, a 1997 graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture, commissioned as a naval officer and went on to earn his “Wings of Gold” in 1999. He has logged over 3000 flight hours in various H-60 aircraft, and deployed eleven times,

supporting numerous named operations.

Thompson served as executive officer and commanding officer at HSC-85 between 2014 and 2015. After completion of nuclear training, he served as executive officer onboard Stennis. From 2021-2022, Thompson brought USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) out of a maintenance availability and led the ship through the Basic Phase in preparation for her first operational tasking in nearly four years.

Before departing the ship for a final time, Norman engraved his initials into the ‘Senate desk’, a ship tradition similar to the tradition that U.S. Senators have kept since the Civil War where they carve their initials into their desks on the Senate floor as they leave office. Every commanding officer of Stennis has diligently followed this tradition to pay homage to Sen. John C. Stennis.

John C. Stennis is in Newport News Shipyard conducting Refueling and Complex Overhaul to prepare the ship for the second half of its 50-year service life.

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