Mullica Hill native assumes command of Navy USS ship

Cmdr. Neil Gabriel, from Mullica Hill, assumed command of USS Dewey

Cmdr. Neil Gabriel receives honors for the first time as USS Dewey’s (DDG 105) commanding officer at Dewey’s change of command ceremony. During the ceremony, Gabriel relieved Cmdr. Paul Lorio as the ship’s commanding officer. DDG vessels are high-speed, agile, long-endurance surface combatants designed for protecting and escorting Aircraft Carriers, yet fully capable of operating solo or with other ship classes (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Second class Jason K. Isaacs)

The guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) held a change of command ceremony at Naval Base San Diego on Oct. 18.

Cmdr. Neil Gabriel, from Mullica Hill, assumed command of Dewey, relieving Cmdr. Paul Lorio who led Dewey as the ship’s seventh commanding officer from June 2018 to Oct. 2019.

During his tenure, Dewey completed multinational exercises partnering with Japan and the Republic of Korea and conducted more than 20 hours of active anti-submarine warfare tracking during the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group sustainment exercise. Dewey also won the Spokane Award and the Battle “E” during Lorio’s time aboard the ship.

As the air and missile defense commander for Expeditionary Strike Group 3, Dewey assisted in the development of tactics, techniques and procedures for integrating the Joint Strike Fighter as an operational asset, test-firing hyper-velocity projectiles, Nulka decoys and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Lorio’s personal decorations include meritorious service medals, Navy and Marine Corps commendation medals, Navy and Marine Corps achievement medals and various unit and campaign decorations.

“There’s no job like this anywhere else in the world and I wouldn’t have traded my time here for anything else,” Lorio said.

He also thanked Dewey’s crew for their hard work and support over the past three years, stating it is their dedication, expertise and hard work that makes the ship so special. His next assignment will be as deputy associate director of campaign analysis at the Pentagon.

Gabriel assumed command of Dewey in accordance with the Navy’s fleet-up program after serving as the ship’s executive officer for 18 months. He graduated from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences, and a master’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Delaware. He was commissioned through the officer candidate school program in October 2001.

At sea, Gabriel served aboard USS Chafee (DDG 90) as a signals warfare officer and assistant operations officer. His department head tours were aboard USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) as operations officer and as combat systems officer aboard USS Monterey (CG 61).

“It is an honor to become the eighth Commanding Officer of USS Dewey. This ship, crew, and namesake have a rich history and strong reputation, and to be a part of this legacy is a great reward,” said Gabriel.

In Admiral Dewey’s autobiography, he wrote about taking command of the Asiatic Squadron prior to the Battle of Manilla Bay, “whether there was a likelihood of war or not, it was my duty to make sure that the squadron was properly prepared for any emergency and not a single precaution was left to chance.” Gabriel reflected on Admiral Dewey’s statement, saying “His words are just as true today as we prepare this warship to do her nation’s bidding.”

For more information about USS Dewey, visit