Navy appoints new commander for Japan-based Task Force 70
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy has nominated an E-2C Hawkeye pilot to lead a troubled task force that includes the aircraft-carrier USS Ronald Reagan, its carrier wing and an armada of forward-deployed cruisers and destroyers.
Career aviator Rear Adm. Karl Thomas has been nominated to command the Yokosuka-based Task Force 70, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson announced Wednesday.
The unit’s current commander, Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, took charge last September after his predecessor, Rear Adm. Charles Williams, was relieved in the wake of two deadly accidents that killed 17 sailors last year.
The collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain were part of a string of mishaps involving the task force, including the November crash of a C-2A Greyhound assigned to the Reagan’s air wing that killed three and the grounding of the USS Antietam in Tokyo Bay in January 2017.
Thomas, who now directs the 21st Century Sailor Office in Arlington, Va., commanded Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117 during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during a deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014. He was executive officer on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington when it forward-deployed to Japan in 2008.