The Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) conducted a change of command ceremony aboard the ship’s flight deck on Apr. 10 during a sunrise ceremony while transiting the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cmdr. Milciades “Tony” Then of Miami relieved Cmdr. Frank E. Brandon as Mitscher’s commanding officer.
The ceremony marked the end of an 18- month tour for Brandon, who commanded the ship through a strenuous work-up cycle and prepared her for a successful Fifth Fleet deployment as an independent deployer alongside the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group to the Fifth and Sixth Fleet areas of operation.
On deployment, Mitscher conducted multiple missions including Maritime Security Operations and Theater Security Cooperation efforts in the region. Mitscher took part in an International Mine Countermeasure Exercise (IMCMEX), pass exercise (PASSEX) with the Turkish Navy, Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Exercise, Squadron Exercise (SQUADEX), Joint Air Defense Exercise (JADEX), Spartan Kopis, Iron Magic, and Operation Active Endeavor, and Operation Inherent Resolve.
Cmdr. Then joined the Navy in June 1991 as a non-rated fireman. In 1992, he was accepted to the Broadened Opportunities for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) program and was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1997 where he then served as the Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer on board the USS Cape St. George (CG 71).
Among his distinguished tours, Cmdr. Then has served as an individual augmentee to Bogotá, Colombia as part of 1st and 3rd Battalion 7th Special Forces Group, as chief engineer on board USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), as commanding officer of Patrol Craft Crew Lima aboard USS Sirocco (PC 6), as flag secretary and aide to Commander Naval Surface Forces, U.. Pacific Fleet, and as joint training liaison to U.S. Joint Forces Command J7 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Brandon will report to COMNAVAIRPAC Sea Component for duty. Then has served as Mitscher’s executive officer for the previous 18 months as part of the Navy’s executive officer/commanding officer (XO/CO) fleet-up program that started in 2006.
Then is intimately familiar with the combat readiness of the ship and her crew and is motivated to serve as her commanding officer.
He will command Mitscher on her return to homeport from the Fifth fleet area of operations, onto future participations in Harborfest, PROTRAMID midshipmen training and ballistic missile defense exercises (BMDEX) before pulling into the yards for combat systems upgrades.