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18 March 2022

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Hall, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Capt. Ken Athans, a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was relieved by Capt. Don Rauch as commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31 during a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, March 18.
Athans served as commodore of DESRON 31 since January 2021 and oversaw the execution of maintenance, training, commissioning and deployment preparations for eight ships including USS Hopper (DDG 70), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 83), USS William P Lawrence (DDG 110), USS John Finn (DDG 113), USS Wayne E Meyer (DDG 108), USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 119), PCU Frank E Peterson Jr. (DDG 121), and PCU Carl M Levin.

Athans also performed duties as Surface Task Group Alpha. Under his direction, they lead a short notice formation of a three-ship Surface Task Group in response to a large-scale foreign adversary out of area deployment. He served as sea combat commander during the planning and execution of two Joint War at Sea proof of concept exercises.

“DESRON 31 has been able to respond to national tasking on little or notice, and we have done this several times,” said Athans. “We have overcome many challenges as a team, especially during a global pandemic. What makes me most proud is how our commanding officers, their crews, and ships have been able to accomplish on a day-to-day basis, despite tough odds.”

Rear Adm. Timothy Kott, commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, was the guest speaker at the ceremony, and he noted the exemplary careers and service of both Athans and Rauch.

“Today’s transfer of command will happen between two very talented naval officers, the best at their craft,” said Kott. “They represent more than 56 years of combined naval service, 18 different commands of experience, and 11 ships. They have served and led thousands of Sailors. There is no greater privilege for a surface warfare officer than to lead and care for Sailors.”

Rauch, who most recently served as the deputy commodore of DESRON 31, thanked Athans for his experience and mentoring. He expressed his gratitude for those he would have the opportunity to serve with.

“Your tireless efforts to keep our warships ready for tasking is truly humbling,” said Rauch, as he spoke to the staff of DESRON 31. “I am excited to come to work every day, because it means that I get to come work with you. I look forward to what we will accomplish together.”

Both Athans and Rauch were previously assigned to DESRON 31 ships earlier in their careers as commanding officers of attached ships. Collins served aboard USS Halsey (DDG 97), and Rauch aboard USS Wayne E. Meyer. Capt. Athans will go on to serve at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, until his retirement.

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