Smooth sailing for first Fil-Am to command US aircraft carrier
It will be smooth sailing from here on.
He doesn’t think he’s any more special than his fellow Navy officers but Capt. Ronald Ravelo made history by becoming the first Filipino-American to command an aircraft carrier in the US Navy after taking command of the USS Abraham Lincoln on Aug. 7, taking over from his brother-in-law Capt. Karl Thomas.
It may also have been the first time that a family member took command from another, said US Naval Air Force Atlantic commander Rear Adm. Troy M. Shoemaker during the change of command ceremony at Victory Landing Park in Newport News, Virginia. Ravelo’s sister is married to Thomas.
“With the two principals related by marriage, this is a first for me and probably our Navy, which makes today’s ceremony even more special and allows the families to plan a twofer, a change of command and a summer family reunion,” Shoemaker said in a report posted on the Stars and Stripes website.
Like planning a wedding
“I can imagine that the logistics for this ceremony were a bit like planning a wedding reception, except that the proverbial bride and groom are your husband and brother, which begs the question: Who’s the groom and which side of the aisle do you sit on?” Shoemaker said in jest.
After shaking his brother-in-law’s hand, Ravelo took out his cell phone and took a quick selfie from behind the podium with about 500 Lincoln sailors, friends and family in attendance, according to the Stars and Stripes report.
In a release posted on the official US Navy website, Ravelo related his father’s experience as a retired storekeeper who joined the US Navy: “My father is a retired chief storekeeper. He left his family and friends to join the Navy and settle in America. I well up with pride for the Filipino community but this is not any more special than any of the other Americans around us today,” Ravelo said.
Key to success
“I assure you, your legacy is intact as [we] step up and continue the fine heritage that you have set in motion,” Ravelo said. “The real national treasure and the key to our success is the 500 sailors you see gathered in ranks around us who represent the 2,500 crew members of Lincoln and the 3,000 shipbuilders of Newport News Shipbuilding. I am and will always be committed to giving you the tools you need to succeed.”
Prior to assuming command at the helm of the Lincoln, Ravelo was most recently commanding officer of the USS Comstock (LSD 45).
Outgoing commander Thomas, who hails from northern Virginia, assumed command of the Lincoln in August 2012. His next assignment will be as commanding officer of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
“This crew will give you 110 percent,” Thomas told Stars and Stripes of the sailors of the ship, which is expected to leave the yard in October. “They are hungry to return the Abraham Lincoln to sea and to her mission.”
A Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the USS Lincoln is currently undergoing a refueling complex overhaul (RCOH), a major life-cycle milestone. It is the fifth ship of the Nimitz class to undergo a RCOH.
“Once RCOH is complete, Lincoln will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet, and will continue to be a vital part of the nation’s defense,” the US Navy website said.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Ravelo attended the University of Southern California from 1983 to 1987 and obtained a degree in industrial and systems engineering. He also attended the University of Redlands from 1994 to 1995, and Harvard University Kennedy School of Government from 2011 to 2012.
Apart from his stint as commanding officer of the Comstock, a post he held from February 2013 to April this year, he served as chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command Maritime Division (N J32) from December 2010 to October 2012 and executive officer of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) from October 2008 to November 2010. Inquirer Research