By Jennifer Ugwueke
Kelechi Ndukwe, a Nigerian-American, has been appointed the commander of a U.S. Navy ship, USS Halsey (DDG-97), described as an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. He is the first Nigerian-American to reach the height.
The U.S. Mission in Nigeria Thursday congratulated Mr Ndukwe, an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame and the U.S. Naval War College. He was appointed last Thursday.
The graduate of chemical engineering replaced DeVere Crooks who had commanded the ship since November 2019, and whom he deputised.
The appointment shoots Mr Ndukwe to the pinnacle of his 18-year career in the US Navy where he started as an auxiliaries officer of the USS Thorn, a year after he bagged a master’s degree in national security and strategy studies from the US Naval War College.
Mr Ndukwe, who graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2002, has also worked in the office of the Chairman of the joint Chiefs of staff (CJCS), America’s highest-ranking military officer.
In the handing over ceremony hosted live on Facebook, Mr Ndukwe recalled how his parents migrated to the U.S. from Nigeria in 1977 as “poor college students with hopes and dreams.”
“Thank you for your example of hard work and dedication and the foundation you have laid for your children,” he said amidst claps from the cabin crew whom he praised for their hard work and urged to do more.
He noted that he is the oldest of his parent’s four children “but also the smallest. And now their son is the captain of a U.S. warship. In America, anything is possible.”
In previous appointments, Mr Ndukwe served as the fire control officer of USS Normandy in Norfolk from 2004 to 2006.
He also wrote on his LinkedIn page that he served as a weapons officer and combat systems officer of USS Fitzgerald in Yokosuka, Japan, from June 2010 to December 2011. Likewise, he was a navy congressional liaison officer in Washington DC, from July 2006 to August 2008.
Between 2013 and 2015, he was the commanding officer for the USS Devastator (MCM 6), a minesweeper based in Bahrain.
The bio of Mr Ndukwe on the Foundation for Defense Democracies (FDD), shows that he had served in numerous warships around the world, including in the Mediterranean Sea, Horn of Africa, Arabian Gulf, and Western Pacific Ocean.