By Sherrie Flippin
SASEBO, Japan (May 28, 2021) – Cmdr. Wilbur Hines assumed command of Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7 from Cmdr. Kirk Sowers during a change of command ceremony in Sasebo, Japan, May 28.
Presiding over the ceremony was Rear Adm. Chris Engdahl, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7.
“Commander Sowers’s accomplishments at NBU 7 are nothing short of impressive,” said Engdahl. “Our ship to shore connectors are vital to our expeditionary mission. Landing Craft Utility (LCU) boats and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicles, and the Sailors that operate and maintain them, will continue to be key parts of the naval integration effort, and must be treated as such. I have no doubt that Commander Hines will be an excellent commander to these crews.”
Under Sower’s leadership, the NBU 7 team supported 26 multinational exercises, two disaster relief operations strengthening the relationship with our partner nations and allies, saved more than $19.8 million on upgrades and repairs through in-house maintenance, and provided support for external commands and host nation. Additionally, NBU 7 received the Retention Excellence Award three times during Sowers’s tenure with a 95 percent reenlistment rate.
"It’s been a privilege to have been part of this command that truly feels more like a family,” said Sowers. “I know I am leaving the team in the hands of an incredible leader and look forward to seeing NBU 7 continue to excel."
Sowers’s next assignment is Future Operations Officer at ESG 7, in Okinawa, Japan.
Hines, a native of Brooklyn, New York, enlisted in the Navy in 1988 and commissioned in 2002. He has served as the executive officer of NBU 7 since 2019.
“Taking command is a humbling experience. I couldn’t be more excited to continue to work with this phenomenal group of Sailors,” said Hines. “The NBU 7 mission is diverse and challenging and I am ready to assume responsibility of our operations moving forward.”
The NBU 7 mission is to provide forward-deployed beach party teams, LCAC, and LCU detachments that are fully trained, properly manned, interoperable, well-maintained, and combat-sustainable to conduct amphibious operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet littoral environments. NBU 7, part of ESG 7, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.