Change of command ceremony
Adm. Samuel J. Paparo (right), commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, congratulates Vice Adm. Stephen T. Koehler upon assuming command of U.S. 3rd Fleet. Navy photo

Vice Adm. Steve Koehler relieved Vice Adm. Scott D. Conn as commander of the 3rd Fleet on Thursday during a change of command ceremony at Naval Base Point Loma.

Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander of the Pacific Fleet, presided over the ceremony, highlighting the 3rd Fleet’s critical role in Navy strategy.

“As I utter these words, there are 30 ships, 12 submarines and hundreds of Navy aircraft ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Paparo. “The sailors and the Marines here in ranks represent a fighting fleet that makes ready the preponderance of naval forces of the United States of America, to be employed against those that would upend the international rules-based order.”

Conn, a native of Lancaster, PA, served as the 30th commander of the 3rd Fleet from September 2019 through June 2021, leading a combat-ready force comprised of over 68,000 people, 100 ships and 400 aircraft stationed throughout California, Washington and Hawaii.

“I am so proud to have been here—to have had the privilege to work with these sailors every day, to wear the 3rd Fleet patch, and to lead 3rd Fleet,” said Conn.

He will report to his new assignment as deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities in Washington.

Koehler, a San Diego native and fighter pilot with 3,900 hours in F-14 Tomcats and F-18 Hornets, previously served as deputy commander of the Pacific Fleet.

“I am excited to continue the fantastic work Vice Adm. Conn and all of the 3rd Fleet team members have done over the past two years to deter our adversaries, assure our allies and partners, and ensure our forces are, if necessary, poised to compete and win,” said Koehler.

“It is an honor to return to San Diego and join this historic command. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together,” he said.

Chris Jennewein

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