MANAMA, Bahrain –
The task force responsible for U.S. 5th Fleet’s surface forces welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony in Bahrain, Nov. 29.
Capt. Anthony Webber relieved Capt. Robert Francis as the commander of Task Force 55 and Destroyer Squadron 50 during the pierside ceremony next to guided-missile destroyer USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119).
Francis assumed command of Task Force 55 in July 2021. During a 16-month tour, he oversaw the decommissioning and of transfer of five Navy patrol coastal ships to Bahrain, integration of the Coast Guard’s newly arrived fast response cutters, and the Navy’s first littoral combat ship deployment to the Middle East.
“The officers and Sailors that [crew] our ships are the true heroes of Task Force 55, and I thank them for making a big difference each and every day,” said Francis. “It has been a true honor to serve as your commodore.”
Francis also served as the first commander of a multinational task force launched by the Combined Maritime Forces in April. Combined Task Force 153 provides maritime security in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb and Gulf of Aden.
Francis is next scheduled to report to the office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C., where he will join the staff for operations, plans and strategy.
Webber assumes command of Task Force 55 after serving as deputy commander. He previously completed a tour in Bahrain as the executive assistant to Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.
“We have a mission to execute and we can only do it as a team,” Webber told the task force staff during the ceremony. “Let’s get after it.”
The U.S. 5th Fleet operating area includes 21 countries, the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandeb and Suez Canal.