Ndukwe Makes History as First Nigerian to Command a U.S. Navy Guided Missile Destroyer

By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau

Few weeks after Nigeria-born Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala assumed duty as new Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Kelechi Ndukwe, a United States Navy Commander makes the nation proud again as he becomes the first Nigerian-American to take command of a U.S. Navy Guided Missile Destroyer, USS HALSEY (DDG-97).

Commander Ndukwe will officially take over the command position on April 2, 2021.

This new feat in our history will sharpen the expectations of younger and future generations of Nigerian descent in the diaspora. It will also open Nigerians within and out of the country to several opportunities and successes that could be achieved in the Navy, ranging from Naval Aviator, Submarine Warfare, Integrated Weapons Systems, Scientists, Medicine, Pharmacist, Nursing, engineering, Nuclear Propulsion and more.

Commander Ndukwe is a U.S. Navy Officer serving on the Joint Staff in the Force Structure, Resource, and Assessment Directorate.

As a Surface Warfare Officer, Commander Ndukwe has served on multiple warships which include destroyers, cruisers and mine countermeasures, with extensive deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, Horn of , Arabian Gulf, Western Pacific Ocean, and South America.

At sea, Commander Ndukwe qualified as Surface Warfare Officer aboard USS THORN (DD-988), where he served as Auxiliaries Mechanical Engineering Officer; USS NORMANDY (CG-60) as Fire-Missile Control Officer; Forward Deployed to Yokosuka, Japan aboard USS FITZGERALD (DDG-62) as Weapons Launching and Combat Systems Officer; Executive and Commanding Officer of USS DEVASTATOR (MCM-6), a Minesweeper based in Bahrain; and most recently as the Executive Officer, USS HALSEY (DGG-97) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Ashore, Commander Ndukwe served in the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, representing the Navy on Capitol Hill as a Congressional Liaison Officer. He also served as Surface Requirement Officer-OPNAV 96 at the Pentagon, Washington DC; Deputy Executive Assistant to the Director for Surface Warfare on the Navy Staff, Washington DC; and Surface Warfare Branch Chief, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.

Commander Ndukwe holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Notre Dame and a Master’s degree in National and Strategy from the U.S. Naval War College.

He has been recognized with various personal, unit-level, and campaign awards including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

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