This post has been updated to correct that Vice Adm. Franchetti is the first woman to command 6th Fleet, not any numbered fleet.
In a ceremony in Naples, Italy, that had guests and side boys spaced six feet apart in their dress whites, Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti today turned over command of U.S. 6th Fleet, ending a historic posting as the first woman to lead that numbered fleet.
Taking command of 6th Fleet is Vice Adm. Gene Black, the former commander of Carrier Strike Group 8 who led a historic carrier deployment to the North Atlantic under Franchetti’s command.
Franchetti said Tuesday that, since taking command two years ago, 6th Fleet has been crucial to maintaining maritime dominance in the region. Under her command, U.S. naval forces worked with French and United Kingdom forces to launch strikes on chemical weapons facilities in Syria; participated in more than 150 maritime exercises, including BALTOPS and Formidable Shield; and sent a carrier strike group – Black’s – above the Arctic Circle for the first time since the Cold War.
“I’m confident that we are ready to seamlessly integrate and meet any challenge that comes our way. … ‘Mission one for every sailor is a ready Navy,’” she said, paraphrasing Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday.
“That readiness translates into deterrence, into economic security, and preserves our defense margins. I’m happy to report that 6th Fleet is ready and we are open for business today, as we have been throughout my tenure.”
Franchetti is moving to the Pentagon, where she will serve as deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting development (OPNAV N7), a new position on the CNO staff that aims to align wargaming, experimentation and education.
Black comes to the command after serving as the director of surface warfare (OPNAV N96) on the CNO’s staff.
In accepting command, Black pledged to continue Franchetti’s focus on personnel.
“Our asymmetric advantage continues to be our people. As John Paul Jones said, which I will modernize slightly: men and women mean more than guns in the raiding of a ship. … I have the utmost confidence that we will rise to any challenge,” Black said.
Adm. James Foggo, guest speaker and commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and NATO Allied Joint Force Command Naples, noted that, under Franchetti’s command, aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) operated together in the Mediterranean, and carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) operated alongside the French carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91), with an F/A-18 Super Hornet landing on the Charles de Gaulle.
The two strike groups, Foggo said, “integrated at every possible level as they brought interoperability to the highest levels.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that she will be back in some way, shape and form as a four-star officer of our great Navy,” Foggo said.