NORFOLK -- Rear Adm. Pete A. Gumataotao relieved Rear. Adm. David M. Thomas, Jr. as Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT) during a ceremony at the Naval Support Activity Norfolk chapel, Aug. 29.
The ceremony marked the end of a successful tour for Thomas who served as commander from May of 2010 through August of 2013.
“I think I got this job because of my candor for expressing the truth and my enthusiasm for wanting to make things better for our Surface Forces,” said Thomas.
Under Thomas’ leadership, SURFLANT improved the readiness of more than 55,000 personnel, 278 ships and craft, 75 operational staffs and shore activities. As the Surface Warfare Enterprise Chief Readiness Officer, his vision led the surface force to high standards of readiness during a time of operational, budgetary and force structure scrutiny.
Before his departure, Thomas shared his keys to success.
“First, Sailors should work hard by showing up early, be willing to stay late and break a sweat,” he said.
Thomas also added that Sailors should have an “all-in” attitude and give their best in everything they do. The most important piece of advice he would tell Sailors is “to be a good person.” Being trustworthy and being someone others can count on says a lot about one’s character.
“So work hard, do your best, be all-in, and be good,” he said. “You’ll be a success in your personal or professional life – in or out of the Navy.”
Gumataotao joined the Navy in 1981 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. His previous command-at-sea tours include: USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS Decatur (DDG 73), Destroyer Squadron 31, Naval Forces Korea and Carrier Strike Group 11 (Nimitz).
The recipient of the first Adm. Zumwalt Award for visionary leadership in 2001, Gumataotao is looking forward to taking over where Thomas left off.
“I’m very excited to be back on the waterfront. Rear Adm. Thomas and the SURFLANT team did an awesome job producing combat-ready ships for the operational commanders,” said Gumataotao. “I’m very proud to be part of this team and plan to build on the successes and momentum generated by Adm. Thomas and the waterfront team.”