U.S. Navy Capt. Christopher Hill, a naval flight officer with a 23-year career in the U.S. Navy, on May 22 formally assumed command of the USS Arlington from Capt. Paul Lanzilotta.
In remarks during a “virtual” change-of-command ceremony necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hill praised the crew and asked them to remember the qualities of honor, courage and commitment.
“Those are real things, not just words,” he told the crew members. “Be proud to put on that uniform every day – you are part of something greater than yourself.”
Since its commissioning in 2013, the USS Arlington has been on three deployments, with its fourth on the horizon. A landing-platform dock, or LPD, the ship’s primary task is to land Marines both in battle situations and on humanitarian missions.
“Whatever it is – when called upon, we are going to do it,” said Capt. Hill, whose nickname “Chowdah” is in homage to his native Massachusetts.
Hill is graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the Naval Nuclear Power Training Program. He was an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) as well as a staffer in the office of Chief of Naval Operations. He has more than 2,700 hours of flight time, primarily in the E-2C Hawkeye early-warning aircraft.
Capt. Lanzilotta has been named commanding officer of the new USS Gerald R. Ford, the largest aircraft carrier on the seas and, at more than $13 billion, the most expensive warship ever put to sea.
In remarks at the May 22 ceremony, Lanzilotta praised the “awesome vigor” of the USS Arlington’s personnel during his tenure.
“The crew of this ship and our teammates, the U.S. Marines, have risen to every challenge,” he said.
(Hill remarked that he and Lanzilotta, who have known each other for years, keep bumping into each other in assignments. Lanzilotta is “one of those truly great leaders” of the Navy, Hill said.)
Lanzilotta also saluted the connection with the Arlington community, singling out Jim Pebley, Kevin Reardon, Frank O’Leary and the county’s police and fire departments for their ongoing support of the ship and its crew. He recalled as an “awesome experience” the chance for crew members to participate in the annual 9/11 Memorial Run.
Hill also touched on the connection with the Arlington community, noting that the ship was named to honor the first-responders to the Pentagon after the 9/11 attack there.
“The USS Arlington is both a warship and a living memorial,” he said.
The change-of-command ceremony can be viewed at www.facebook.com/ussarlington.