NAS LEMOORE – There was a changing of the guard aboard Naval Air Station Lemoore, Friday, December 7th when Capt. James Bates relieved Capt. William Gotten as Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific (CSFWP).
Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller III, Commander Naval Air Forces, was the guest speaker for the ceremony. Gotten, from Memphis, Tenn., assumed the role as commodore at a critical time in the command’s history as the demand signal for readiness and lethal strike fighter squadrons continues to grow. The spotlight on strike fighter (VFA) readiness is highlighted by Secretary Mattis’s requirement of 80 percent mission-capable strike fighters for the U.S. Navy by the end of next year.
“America’s dominance on the high seas is not a birthright, and our victory in a high-end fight is not preordained,” said Miller. “This means that having warfighters, fully trained and equipped, ready to fight and win tonight, is more critical that it has been for decades.”
Throughout his tour as Commodore, Gotten and his team have prepared the five carrier air wings (CVW) he is responsible for to meet global Navy commitments. CSFWP has manned and equipped five of the seven CVWs that have deployed in the last 18 months, including forward-deployed Carrier Air Wing 5’s standard patrols.
Gotten and his team have been fully immersed in the readiness recovery effort, restoring 26 additional F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, directly correlating to a 26 percent increase in pilots’ flight hours per month. Additionally, Gotten oversaw the stand-up of the Naval Aviation Maintenance Center for Excellence (NAMCE) here at Naval Air Station Lemoore. NAMCE is a dedicated assessment repair facility for long-term down aircraft from squadrons that do not have the capability or parts to repair them. Since its start-up earlier this year, the facility has created three newly mission-capable aircraft with a projection of 19 more by the end of next year. NAMCE also provides additional shore-billet opportunities for Lemoore-based maintainers to increase the experience level and resident knowledge across the flight line.
Gotten, was commissioned in 1994 through the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated with distinction with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering. He was selected for flight training and reported to Pensacola, Fla. And was designated a Naval Aviator in 1996. Gotten previously served as the commanding officer for Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 “Dambusters” in 2012 before being assigned to the Military Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy / Deputy Chief Management Officer, now the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (Management) at the Pentagon. He reported to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific as the Deputy Commodore in June 2016.
“The past year has been the epitome of team sport for me,” said Gotten. “What we knew as the Naval Aviation Enterprise in 2017 is nearly unrecognizable today due to the efforts of the Air Boss and all involved to bring Naval Aviation back to the health the nation needs. I've had the honor of playing different roles, sometimes as owner, others as coach or player and everyone with whom I've worked shares in the Air Boss' vision to break down the barriers in the way.”
Gotten is succeeded by Capt. James Bates from Bethlehem, Conn. He previously served as the commanding officer for Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2, “Bounty Hunters” in 2012 before being assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command as Deputy J52, Plans and Policy officer in July 2013. Bates accepted orders in December 2017 to Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet as the Deputy Commodore of the largest Type Wing in the U.S. Navy.
Commander, Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet provides combat-ready strike fighter squadrons trained to conduct carrier-based, all weather, attack, fighter and support missions as required by the fleet tactical commander. Commander, Strike Fighter Wing maintains close liaison with Commander Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and embarked Air Wing commanders in the execution of this mission. For more news from Commander, Naval Air Forces, visit www.navy.mil/local/airpac/.