TOKYO — Capt. David Fluker took the helm of the USS Essex from Capt. Troy Hart during a change of command ceremony Thursday aboard the ship at Sasebo Naval Base.

Fluker takes command after serving as the ship’s executive officer since September 2009, according to a Navy news release.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be your commanding officer,” Fluker said, according to the release. “The Essex Sailors that surround you today are what make the ship capable.”

Hart will serve as the executive officer at Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Atlantic, for his next assignment.

“I have never been more proud of a crew than I am of you,” Hart said during the ceremony, according to the release. “There’s no harder working, more caring or more dedicated crew in the fleet.”

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