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NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) — A change of command ceremony was held in the hangar bay onboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Aug. 3.

Capt. Randall W. Peck relieved Capt. Gregory C. Huffman as commanding officer of John C. Stennis.

Guest speaker Congressman Gregg Harper, U.S. Representative for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, praised Huffman on his accomplishments as commanding officer of John C. Stennis as well as his naval career.

“[Capt. Huffman’s] service has been above and beyond the call of duty,” said Harper. “We are all grateful for his years of honorable and distinguished leadership…Senator [Stennis] always said good leaders “Look Ahead”, and I feel confident that some of [Capt. Huffman’s] brightest days are ahead."

During his speech, Huffman thanked the crew and credited his Sailors for everything accomplished during his time onboard.

“The standard has been set, and it is because of all of the hard work you’ve put in the last few years. You’ve blown everything we’ve done right out of the water,” said Huffman. “The Stennis is one of the best warships in the fleet, and it’s all due to your effort and dedication to excellence. Thank you for your outstanding service, and a job well done.”

Peck, from Houston, received his commission upon graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991. He was designated as a naval flight officer after completing flight training at Naval Air Station Miramar in 1993.

Peck served as the commanding officer of the Carrier Airborne Early Warning (VAW) 112 “Golden Hawks” squadron from September 2009 to December 2010, executive officer of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) from 2014 to 2016, then as the commanding officer of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) from February 2016 to May 2017.

“It is an honor to take command from Capt. Huffman, and a privilege to take charge of this outstanding crew,” said Peck. “Sailors are the motive force behind any successful warship and this crew is ready; we are combat focused, and I look forward to continuing the high standards of excellence while increasing our combat readiness to overcome any challenge that the future holds.”

Before departing the ship for a final time, Huffman stopped in the ship’s museum to carve his initials into a replica Senate desk. Since the Civil War, senators have carved their initials into their desks on the Senate floor as they leave office; each of Stennis' commanding officers has followed this tradition to pay homage to Sen. John C. Stennis.

Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, John C. Stennis is currently conducting operations to maintain readiness.

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