Navy cruiser involved in May collision receives new commander

Capt. Jen Ellinger took charge of the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain during a change-of-command ceremony aboard the ship, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.


By TYLER HLAVAC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 29, 2017

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A new commander has taken charge of a Navy cruiser that collided with a fishing vessel east of the Korean Peninsula earlier this year.

Capt. Jen Ellinger assumed command of the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain from Capt. Chris Cegielski Thursday in San Diego, a Navy statement said.

Cegielski was in charge of the Ticonderoga-class cruiser when it collided with a South Korean fishing vessel on May 9.

The Navy hasn’t released many details about the accident, although the Lake Champlain was able to finish its five-and-a-half-month deployment before returning to San Diego in June.

The incident was part of a slew of incidents involving U.S. warships in the Pacific this year.

In January, the USS Antietam ran aground and spilled roughly 1,100 gallons of hydraulic fluid into Tokyo Bay; in June, a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a merchant ship killed seven sailors; and last month, a collision between the USS John S. McCain and a merchant vessel killed 10 sailors.

Unlike those three ships, which belong to the Yokosuka, Japan-based 7th Fleet, the Lake Champlain is assigned to the San Diego-based 3rd Fleet.

Third Fleet Spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins said the change of command was routine and was not related to the May collision.

The captains of both the Antietam and the Fitzgerald were relieved after the collisions involving their ships.

Ellinger assumes command of the cruiser after a roughly one year tour as deputy commodore for the San Diego-based Destroyer Squadron 21.


The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, center, leads South Korean destroyers in the Western Pacific, May 3, 2017.

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