Military Sealift Command Pacific Welcomes New Commander

Military Sealift Command Pacific (MSCPAC) welcomes its new leader, Capt. Gabe Varela.  Varela assumed command from Capt. Brett Hershman, who has served as commander of MSCPAC since 2017.

Varela joins the MSC team following a position as Requirements, Doctrine, Tactics and Experimentation Department Head (N8/9), at the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, San Diego.

A native of Phoenix, Ariz. Varela’s military career began in 1987 when he enlisted in the Navy and served as an Aviation Electronics Technician, Aircrewman until 1994.  He was commissioned a Surface Warfare Officer in 1995 through the Seaman to Admiral program.  His education includes an undergraduate degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Information Systems from the University of San Diego, and a Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College

Throughout his career, Varela has served at sea on a variety of ships including as an Engineering Division Officer aboard USS Rushmore (LSD 47), as Navigator aboard USS Antietam (CG 54), as Weapons Officer, Combat Systems Officer, and Executive Officer aboard USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and Executive Officer and Commanding Officer, USS Kidd (DDG 100); as Assistant Chief of Staff(ACOS) for Material(N4) with Commander Carrier Strike Group SEVEN (CCSG 7) embarked aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).  Ashore he has served as the Sea Combat Syndicate Lead for Carrier Strike Group Fifteen (CCSG 15), responsible for deployment certifications in sea combat operations for all Pacific Fleet Expeditionary Strike Groups, Carrier Strike Groups, Amphibious Ready Groups, Destroyer Squadrons and independent deploying ships.

“We have a championship team here, and I am happy to be here,” Varela said to the MSCPAC staff.  “Being a part of this team is special.”

Varela relieves Hershman, who since assuming command, has overseen a wide range of operations and exercises, including two Operation Deep Freeze resupply missions to Antarctica, two deployments of hospital ship USNS Mercy in support of Pacific Partnership humanitarian assistance mission and the 2018 Rim of the Pacific exercise.

During a brief ceremony at the MSCPAC Headquarters Building in San Diego, Calif., Hershman was awarded the Legion of Merit medal for his work as the MSCPAC commander.  He will report to Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center Point Loma, Calif.

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the MSC Pacific commander these past two years,” said Hershman. “The dedication and experience our mariners and staff bring to the job every day in order to keep our ships at sea supporting the Fleet and Joint Forces around the globe is inspiring in every way. They have proven up to any task and always deliver. I will miss it, and wish everyone the best of luck, particularly Commodore Varela.”

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