Lehighton grad is new commander on USS Enterprise
A Lehighton native was set to take over as the commanding officer for the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) during a ceremony this morning.
United States Navy Captain Todd Beltz, was scheduled to relieve Captain William C. Hamilton Jr., during the USS Enterprise change of command and retirement ceremony at Vista Point Naval Station in Norfolk.
Beltz, who has served in the Navy for just over 26 years, said he is grateful for the opportunity.
"It means a lot to me in the sense that this is my third time serving on the ship," Beltz said. "Personally, it's a real honor to see the ship from when I first came in the Navy up to the point it is now, and to be on the ship, because the ship's at a point where it's going through an inactivation. It's being prepared to go out of service completely. I will be the last commanding officer of the ship before it's finally decommissioned."
Beltz offered some insight into what his responsibilities will be in that capacity.
"Typically, the crew size is around 3,000 sailors, but because we are in the process of that inactivation and going to decommissioning, we only have 550 sailors right now," he said.
"So the responsibility will be to oversee a crew of that size, oversee the project of defueling eight nuclear reactors, and then working with the shipyard project team to make sure that whole process is done and completed successfully over the next year-and-a-half."
Beltz shared another interesting fact about his role as commanding officer.
"The commanding officers of the aircraft carriers are normally aviators," he said. "But, I'm going to be the first one as surface warfare officer to be the commanding officer of an aircraft carrier."
Beltz graduated from Lehighton Area High School in 1984, and is a 1989 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.
His sea duty assignments include tours as propulsion plant watch officer in USS Enterprise; anti-submarine warfare and electronic repair officer in USS Estocin (FFG 15); combat systems officer in USS Arthur W. Radford (DD 968); chemistry and radiological controls assistant in USS Enterprise (CVN 65), executive officer in USS Hayler (DD 997), commanding officer in USS Elrod (FFG 55), and as deputy operations officer in Carrier Strike Group Five.
Shore assignments include tours at Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Florida; Nuclear Prototype in Ballston Spa, New York; Surface Warfare Officer School Command as an engineering instructor; Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic as executive officer on the Nuclear Propulsion Mobile Training Team; Future Force Structure, Sea Shield, and Sea Basing action officer on the OPNAV staff within the Capability Analysis and Assessment Division (N81); director of fleet training in Surface Warfare Officer School Command, and Deputy in the Strategic Research Department at the Naval War College.
Beltz's personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal. He holds a Master in Business Administration from Troy State University and a Master of Arts in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.
Beltz assumed duties as executive officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise on March 18, 2013.