NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– Capt. Michael Kline relieved Capt. Kenneth Sterbenz as program manager of the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) Program Office (PMA-251) Aug. 25 during a change of command ceremony in the Rear Adm. William A. Moffett Building at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Capt. Michael Kline (left) relieved Capt. Kenneth Sterbenz (right) as program manager of the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office (PMA-251) during a change of command ceremony Aug. 25, 2022, in the Rear Adm. William A. Moffett Building at Naval Air Station Patuxent River with Rear Adm. Shane Gahagan (center). Credit: U.S. Navy

Rear Adm. Shane Gahagan, Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs (PEO(T)), and guest speaker at the ceremony spoke to the importance of ALRE, the necessity of excellent leadership, and its intrinsic link to the United States’ ability to impact the economy and promote prosperity.

“Our entire way of life is dependent on seaborne trade, and if we can’t launch and recover aircraft, we can’t influence the world,” said Gahagan.

As PMA-251’s new leader, Kline assumed responsibility for ALRE’s portfolio, a “system of systems,” spread throughout the Navy and Marine Corps, and its team of more than 700 people, jointly located at NAS Patuxent River and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

After reading his orders, Kline expressed appreciation for the people who influenced his career and those who have shaped ALRE throughout its history.

Captain Michael P. Kline, USN Credit: U.S. Navy

“Our mission is absolutely about people, from the warfighter at the pointy tip of the spear to the people who develop, support, and maintain the systems; the American people, our allies, the Constitution, and the Country whose course it directs,” said Kline. “Teamwork, relationships, diversity, inclusion, and respect all play a major role in accomplishing the mission. I am incredibly humbled and honored to be joining the ALRE Team.”

Prior to reporting to PMA-251, Kline served as Executive Assistant to Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, and has dedicated his 25-year career to aviation, test, and program management. He has also accumulated 1,800 flight hours in 30 different aircraft.

During Sterbenz’s four-year tenure as Program Manager for the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment, he managed an approximately $3 billion Total Obligation Authority budget and the delivery of 175 ALRE products to the fleet, including EMALS and AAG, the Navy’s newest launch and recovery technologies in more than 60 years, which are installed aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

“For all the successes and accomplishments of our 55 ALRE programs, it is truly about the people that comprise the organization, their dedication, commitment, and untiring professionalism and work ethic; I thank you all for your support and everything you do every day,” said Sterbenz during his parting remarks.

Innovation, responsibility, and adaptability were core to Sterbenz’s leadership at PMA-251, as demonstrated by his management of ALRE’s portfolio throughout a pandemic and rapidly changing security environment.

Adm. Gahagan congratulated Sterbenz on his tour and stated, “Stubby’s leadership over the past four years ensured that we’ve launched and recovered nearly every day; that doesn’t happen by chance, it takes great leadership, and it takes a passionate team.”


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