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Vice Adm. John Aquilino addresses the crowd at a change of command ceremony for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet in Manama, Bahrain May 6, 2018. Aquilino was relieved by Vice Admiral Scott Stearney.
Vice Adm. John Aquilino addresses the crowd at a change of command ceremony for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet in Manama, Bahrain May 6, 2018. Aquilino was relieved by Vice Admiral Scott Stearney. (Jason Behnke/Stars and Stripes)
Vice Adm. John Aquilino addresses the crowd at a change of command ceremony for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet in Manama, Bahrain May 6, 2018. Aquilino was relieved by Vice Admiral Scott Stearney.
Vice Adm. John Aquilino addresses the crowd at a change of command ceremony for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet in Manama, Bahrain May 6, 2018. Aquilino was relieved by Vice Admiral Scott Stearney. (Jason Behnke/Stars and Stripes)
Vice Adm. John Aquilino salutes Vice Admiral Scott Stearney at a change of command ceremony in Manama, Bahrain, May 6, 2018. Stearney relieved Aquilino for command of U.S. 5th Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command.
Vice Adm. John Aquilino salutes Vice Admiral Scott Stearney at a change of command ceremony in Manama, Bahrain, May 6, 2018. Stearney relieved Aquilino for command of U.S. 5th Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command. (Jason Behnke/Stars and Stripes)
Vice Adm. Scott Stearney addresses the crowd at a change of command ceremony for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet in Manama, Bahrain May 6, 2018. Stearney relieved Vice Admiral John Aquilino.
Vice Adm. Scott Stearney addresses the crowd at a change of command ceremony for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet in Manama, Bahrain May 6, 2018. Stearney relieved Vice Admiral John Aquilino. (Jason Behnke/Stars and Stripes)

MANAMA, Bahrain — After only eight months on the job, Vice Adm. John C. Aquilino on Sunday turned over command of the U.S. 5th Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command to Vice Adm. Scott A. Stearney.

“I’m very grateful, thankful and I’m humbled for the opportunity to lead the maritime forces in the region,” Stearney said during a change of command ceremony at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, where the 5th Fleet is based. He last served as director of operations at U.S. Central Command.

Several regional leaders attended the event, including Bahrain Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Aquilino asked the Bahrainis to thank the king for the “wonderful friendship” they shared while he was stationed there.

The prime minister praised Aquilino’s efforts in strengthening friendship and cooperation between the United States and the island kingdom, the Bahrain News Agency reported.

Aquilino served only eight months in the position because of his promotion to admiral earlier this year and his selection to take command of the Hawaii-based Pacific Fleet.

“As many of you know from working with him, (Aquilino) is the perfect fit for a command that is so important to our nation and to many of our allies,” Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said during the ceremony. “We are proud to say he was ours for at least a while.”

Aquilino is expected to relieve Adm. Scott Swift later this month in Hawaii. Swift announced his retirement last September after learning that he would not be nominated to lead U.S. Pacific Command.

behnke.jason@stripes.com Twitter: @JasonFromSD

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