Amphibious transport ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) held a change of command ceremony at sea Feb. 7.

Capt. John Menoni relieved Capt. William Grotewold as commanding officer.

Chief Electrician’s Mate Miranda Weeks raises the ensign on the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego. U.S. Navy photo by Gerald Dudley Reynolds.

Grotewold, San Diego’s third commanding officer, assumed command May 25, 2012, one week after the ship’s commissioning ceremony. Under Grotewold’s command, San Diego reached many milestones. Some, like Final Contract Trials, are unique to a newly commissioned ship. Others, such as basic phase certifications for deployment, are standard around the fleet.

Guest speaker Rear Adm. Fernandez “Frank” Ponds, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, praised San Diego’s achievements under Grotewold’s command. “San Diego has exceeded all CNO benchmarks and goals. This is probably the best LPD 17 class ship out of this class,” said Ponds. “It has been a privilege and an honor to have you within Expeditionary Strike Group Three.”

Grotewold addressed the ship’s crew for the last time prior to reading his transfer orders.

“It was my privilege to command America’s finest ship in America’s finest city,” said Grotewold.

Grotewold received his commission in 1990 after his graduation from Vanderbilt. He has had numerous sea and shore assignments, including command of USS Cormorant(MHC 57) and USS Rushmore (LSD 47).

Menoni arrived in November 2012 to serve as the executive officer of San Diego. He received his commission in 1991 after graduating from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Menoni attended naval flight training and qualified as a pilot in 1993 in both the H-46 Seaknight and MH-60S Kinghthawk. His prior assignments include command of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25.

“I am both humbled and excited to take command of this awesome crew and continue the great work started by Captain Grotewold,” said Menoni.

San Diego, homeported in her namesake city, is currently conducting certifications in preparation for her maiden deployment in mid-2014.

For more news from USS San Diego (LPD 22), visit

— From a U.S. Navy press release

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.