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USS Richard M. McCool (LPD 29) is the first ship to bear the name of Congressional Medal of Honor winner CAPT Richard M. McCool, Jr.  As a lieutenant, he commanded Landing Craft Support (Large) (LCS(L)) 122, which was attacked by two kamikaze aircraft on 11 June, 1945. The crew downed the first aircraft, but the second one hit the conning tower of the ship.  Wounded and suffering severe burns, McCool led his men in saving the ship, until relief forces arrived and he was medically evacuated for his injuries.

         LPD 29 is the last ship of the San Antonio Flight I Class.  However, some modifications from the follow-on Flight II have been incorporated into her.  She can carry two Ship to Shore Connector Craft in her well deck, and two V-22 aircraft in her hangar bay.

Christening of Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29)

Ingalls Shipbuilding christens the large transport ship Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) on June 11, 2022. Ship's Co-Sponsors is Shana McCool and Kate Oja, granddaughters of the ship’s namesake.

*Click the photo or here to watch the video*

Launch of Richard M. McCool Jr.

The U.S. Navy amphibious transport dock Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) was launched at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

*Click the photo or here to watch the video*



Captain Jeff Baker

Prospective Commanding Officer

Captain Baker enlisted in the Navy in 1994 following graduation from Westminster College in Pennsylvania, earning a B.S. degree in Physics. He completed nuclear propulsion training and served two years as an instructor at NPTU Ballston Spa, NY and was commissioned through Officer Candidate School in 1998. He earned M.S. in Systems Engineering & Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, and completed Joint Professional Military Education Phase I from the Naval War College in 2005. In 2020, he earned a M.S. in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy and completed Joint Professional Military Education Phase II from the National Defense University, Joint Advanced Warfighting School.

Afloat, Captain Baker served as the Main Propulsion Officer on USS Shreveport (LPD 12); Landing Craft OIC in Assault Craft Unit Two; Chief Engineer on USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44); Commanding Officer of Patrol Coastal Crew Delta on USS Hurricane (PC 3) and USS Firebolt (PC 10); Executive Officer on USS Comstock (LSD 45); Commanding Officer on USS Tortuga (LSD 46); and Commander, Naval Surface Squadron Five (CNSS5) in Manama, Bahrain.

Ashore, Captain Baker served as a Federal Executive Fellow in Washington D.C. and worked on U.S. Maritime Strategy in the Defense Studies group at the American Enterprise Institute; COMNAVSURFLANT N44 working material readiness improvements for Amphibious and Patrol Coastal ships; and Commanding Officer at Engineering Assessments Atlantic.

Captain Baker is currently the Prospective Commanding Officer for USS Richard M. McCool (LPD 29).

Captain Baker’s military decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Navy Commendation Medal (6), the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the GWOT Expeditionary and Service Medals, Iraqi Campaign Medal, and various other campaign medals and unit awards.

brian karlo


Commander Brian Karlo

Executive Officer

Commander Brian Karlo is a native of Denver, CO and graduated in 2008 from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering.  He earned his commission through the NROTC program.  After his first sea tour, he completed nuclear propulsion training, and qualified Nuclear Engineering Officer in 2013.  In 2024 he earned an Operational Systems Analysis Certificate through the Naval Postgraduate School, and completed Joint Professional Military Education Phase I from the Naval War College.

Afloat, Commander Karlo served as Fire Control Officer on USS Crommelin (FFG 37) and Reactor Controls and Reactor Mechanical Division Officer on USS Enterprise (CVN 65).  His department head tours include Plans and Tactics Officer on USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) and Main Propulsion Assistant on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

Ashore, he served as Administration Officer and Executive Assistant to the Commander at DISA Europe, and most recently, he inspected aircraft carriers and submarines on the Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board, Pacific.

Commander Karlo’s military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2), the National Defense Service Medal, the GWOT Expeditionary and Service Medals, and various other campaign medals and unit awards.



CMDCM Jerry L. Gonzales

Command Master Chief

Command Master Chief Petty Officer, Jerry L. Gonzales, a native of Fredericksburg, Texas, he began his military career in 2000, when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Upon completion of basic training at Recruit Training Command, Greatlakes Il. he reported to his first command aboard the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) where he earned his Enlisted Surface Warfare Qualification.  He rose through the ranks serving aboard USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Forest Sherman (DDG 98), USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66). In 2016 he was promoted to Senior chief and completed Senior Enlisted Academy Class 220 in 2019.  In 2020 he was selected to serve as a Command Senior Chief.  In June 2021 through April 2023 he served as the CSEL onboard USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) Blue Crew.

His shore assignments include Recruit Training Command for Recruit Division Commander (RDC) duty.  On February 9, 2009, he graduated RDC “C” School where he pushed five Divisions comprised of 440 recruits, earning the Distinguished Leadership Award, Master Training Specialist, RDC of the Quarter and hand selected to be Battle Stations-21 Leading Petty Officer.  On October 29, 2019 he reported to Afloat Training Group Norfolk as the 3M LCPO/Assessor/Instructor and qualified Afloat Training Specialist and completed CMC/COB course in September, 2020 while serving as the Command Senior Chief.

He assumed the duties as the Command Master Chief onboard USS Richard M. McCool (LPD 29) on April 10, 2023.

His personal awards include Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (six awards) and Presidential Unit Citation as well as various unit and campaign awards.

Command Master Chief Gonzales and his wife Melissa A. Gonzales reside in Virginia Beach, VA with their 2 daughters and one son: Heather (24), Jerry (18), and Isabella (13).