A Nigerian-American, Kelechi Ndukwe, has been appointed as the commander of a US Navy Guided Missile Destroyer.
Ndukwe who had been serving as the second-in-command took over from DeVere J. Crooks who had commanded the ship since November 2019.
These were disclosed in a tweet on Thursday by the United States Mission in Nigeria.
The tweet read, “Kudos to Kelechi Ndukwe on his new role as commander of a US Navy Guided Missile Destroyer. The University of Notre Dame and the US Naval War College alumnus becomes the first Nigerian-American captain of a US Navy ship. Congratulations!”
As the first Nigerian-American to command the ship, the new role is the zenith of his 18-year career in the US navy which started with him working as an auxiliaries officer in 2003, a year after obtaining 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.”
According to the Foundation for Defense Democracies, Ndukwe has served in multiple warships in various parts of the world including the Mediterranean Sea, Horn of Africa, Arabian Gulf, and Western Pacific Ocean.
His LinkedIn profile states that he has also served in various other roles such as weapons officer and combat systems officer of USS Fitzgerald in Yokosuka, Japan, from June 2010 to December 2011 and as a navy congressional liaison officer in Washington DC, from July 2006 to August 2008.
He also served as the fire control officer of USS Normandy in Norfolk, from 2004 to 2006; and auxiliaries officer of USS Thorn, also in Norfolk, from 2003 to 2004.
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.
While there between April 2017 and February 2019, he served in the force structure, resource, and assessment directorate which is charged with “providing support to CJCS for evaluating and developing force structure requirements” and which “conducts joint, bilateral, and multilateral war games and interagency politico-military seminars and simulations”.