By Ensign Meighan Middleton, USS Mobile Bay Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – Sailors stood in formation on the flight deck as USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) held a change of command ceremony while pierside at Naval Base San Diego, March 3.

With the traditional exchange of salutes, Capt. Timothy Kott turned over command of the Ticonderoga-class cruiser to Capt. Sean McLaren.

The ceremony’s guest speaker, Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, Commander John C. Stennis Strike Group, praised Kott for his commitment and actions in a speech to the attendees.

“Under his command, Mobile Bay has performed to the highest standard in everything that they have done as noted by the strong waterfront and strike group reputation that the ship has earned” said Boxall. “You will leave with the pride of knowing that you did your duty, that you served your crew, your Navy, and your Nation with honor. And most importantly, you brought your Sailors safely home.”

The ceremony marked the end of a 24-month command tour for Kott. He led Mobile Bay and her crew through completion of a 2013 surge deployment to the Fifth and Seventh Fleets of Operations, seven months of sustainment operations, an eight month CNO’s Selected Restricted Availability, and oversaw the Certification of Mobile Bay in EOC and numerous Tier 1 and Tier 2 Basic Phase Events.

Under his leadership, Mobile Bay was one of the most decorated ships in the Pacific Fleet, earning two consecutive Battle Efficiency Awards, two Unit Tactics Awards, the CNO’s Safety Award, the Secretary of the Navy Safety Award, and two consecutive Retention Excellence Awards.

Kott said he would miss working for the dedicated and talented men and women who make Mobile Bay the great ship she is most of all.

In his speech, he credited the crew’s hard work, especially those “whom arrived as seamen or firemen, and will leave as first and second class surface warfare qualified, deployment proven Sailors. You all deserve to be on this platform as well; this is your ship.”

“You will not find 377 finer young Americans anywhere else,” said Kott. “They represent the best of our service and country. Through every challenge faced, including a crew returning from back-to-back deployments in 2013, the greatest compliment ever made about Mobile Bay was about the quality and resiliency of her crew.”

Kott’s next tour will be on the Chief of Naval Operations Staff, Programming Division as head of Programming Planning and Development Branch (OPNAV N801).

McLaren most recently served at the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers, Europe in Mons, Belgium.

“I started my sea duty career as a cruiser Sailor in San Diego,” said McLaren. “In a lot of ways, this is my career coming full circle. I am excited and eager to get to work.”

Mobile Bay is currently undergoing advanced phase work ups for a 2015 deployment to the Seventh Fleet area of operations. Mobile Bay is assigned to the John C. Stennis Strike Group.