The Navy appointed a new commander of the Pacific-based amphibious force known as Task Force 76 this week.

Rear Adm. Brad Cooper assumed command from Capt. Ed Thompson on Jan. 22, taking control of about 5,500 sailors and 10 ships based throughout Korea, Japan and Guam, according to a Navy release.

Cooper previously commanded U.S. Naval Forces Korea from September 2016 to January 2018.

“I’m honored and excited to serve with this incredible team and excited about the operations that are on the horizon,” Cooper said. “This staff has an outstanding reputation in 7th Fleet for its professionalism and mission accomplishment. I am confident we will continue to operate at such a high level of performance.

Thompson had been serving as the interim commander for five months, a period in which he was also overseeing the readiness of nine Japan-based ships.

“This staff performed superbly during a critical time of refocus on maintenance, training and certifications and the readiness of our task force is a testament to the dedication by everyone in the CTF and on the staff,” Thompson said.

The 7th Fleet’s surface force has experienced a massive shakeup during the past several months after two ship collisions last summer resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors.

Last year, the Navy fired Rear Adm. Charles Williams, the commander of the 7th Fleet’s top job, also known as Task Force 70. Top Navy officials appointed the previous head of Task Force 76’s amphib fleet, Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, to take over that top job, leaving Thompson, the deputy commander, to serve as the acting commander of the amphibs.

Thompson will now return to his job as deputy commander.

Amphibious Force 7th Fleet is the Navy’s sole forward-deployed amphib unit.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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