The next commanding officer of Naval Air Station Key West will be Capt. Steven P. McAlearney, the Navy announced Wednesday.
McAlearney will take command of Boca Chica Field and all Navy properties in Key West and Monroe County on June 6 at a change-of-command ceremony at the Boca Chica Key base.
He is reporting from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats in Washington, D.C., but he spent most of his career in the cockpit of fighter jets.
The 1989 U.S. Naval Academy graduate received his aviator's wings September 1991. He flew with eight different squadrons, the most recent being the Strike Fighter Squadron 136, also known as the Knighthawks, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
McAlearney also flew with Virginia-based Strike Fighter Squadron 106, the Gladiators, who have a permanent detachment in Key West. The Gladiators are one of the most frequent fliers out of NAS Key West.
The new base commander has more than 3,600 flight hours and 850 carrier landings on his resume, primarily in the F/A-18 Hornet. He was not available for comment Wednesday.
The change means current commanding officer Capt. Pat Lefere will be stepping down after three years of service in Key West, also ending his 27 years of service in the Navy, as he will be retiring, said Navy spokeswoman Trice Denny.
"All sailors are familiar with change of commands throughout their careers, which is a time-honored tradition that makes sure everyone aboard is aware of the new commanding officer's authority," Denny said. "We'll definitely be sad to see Capt. Lefere leave NAS Key West, but happy to see him start a new phase ... and we look forward to working with Capt. McAlearney and helping the community get to know him."
Lefere has been in Key West since 2010. During that time he hosted the USS Spruance commissioning, the multinational maritime exercise UNITAS Atlantic 2012 and worked closely with the county to amend the part of its comprehensive land-use plan called the Military Installation Area of Impact.