Captain James F. Shanahan
Captain James F. Shanahan is a native of Buchanan, Michigan and entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1960. Captain Shanahan holds a master’s degree in Computer Systems from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California and is a graduate of the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. He attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C.
Captain Shanahan is married to the former Sandra Campbell of Clearwater, Florida. Captain and Mrs. Shanahan have a son, Daniel, and daughters Patricia and Kathleen.
Tours & Decorations
Captain Shanahan’s shore assignments include tours as Instructor of Computer Science at the Naval Academy, Force Strategy and Plans Officer on the Staff of the U.S. Commander-In-Chief, Pacific, and as Branch Head for Electronic Warfare and Combat Systems Support for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Surface Warfare) in the Pentagon from 1986 to 1989.
Captain Shanahan’s first tour after graduation in 1964 was a Combat Information Center Officer aboard USS COMPTON (DD 705). Following an ASW Officer tour aboard USS ELLLISON (DD 864), Captain Shanahan completed the Department Head school at Newport, Rhode Island and an assignment as Chief Engineer, USS FISKE (DD 842). He was the Executive Officer and Navigator on the USS BANNER (AGER 1) and, after a series of shore tours, served as Chief Engineer, USS DAHLGREN (DDG 43) and as Executive Officer, USS BADGER (FF 1071). From 1981 to 1984, Captain Shananhan commanded The USS COCHRANE (DDG 21) and was assigned as Chief Engineer, USS SARATOGA (CV 60) from 1984 to 1986.
Captain Shanahan’s personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals (Navy), the Navy Achievement Medal, various campaign and unit awards, and the coveted Expert Pistol Medal.
Change of Command Ceremony
Captain Shanahan’s widow, Sandi, donated many personal items to the Town Hall Museum in Shenandoah, VA, in Memoriam for her husband. Below are images of the USS Shenandoah (AD 44) museum:
He was one of the greatest men I’ve ever had the privalage of knowing. Right up there with BMCM Lemence and HTCM Page.
— Blaine Evans
Smart, fair and incredibly driven. He pushed us hard because he knew we could do it and most important… He was a leader both professionally and personally.. I had a significant issue stateside while deployed and he listened and then advocated for me. He even called to ensure I was ok, when I had to leave the ship. This was a Good man.
— Walter Leathers
What a wonderful man. A great commanding officer. Stopped to speak often. Made all of us feel like we were important. HM2
— Kathy McCann
When I was a SKSR I had testify before him as a witness at Capt’s mast. I was scared to death, but he was so cool and calming, which surprised me and I never forgot that. I was lucky enough to have had 1 on 1 conversations with him. He was very nice and took the time to speak to all no matter their rank. Best skipper ever. SK3 Lee
— Karen McKelver
Was one of the best leaders I ever had the pleasure of serving under while in the USN and US Navy Seabees.
— Scott Pastorick
— Larry Grisham
Best Captain ever. I have so many great memories of him. He is greatly missed.
— Stephanie Rider Nearing
— Jeff Beadle
ET3 Haines here. I had taken leave for a long weekend. I arrived back in Norfolk late Sunday night. Monday morning, right after quarters, I was headed to berthing to shave. I hadn’t done so since the previous Thursday morning. Capt. Shanahan appeared in the passageway leading to disbursing as I was halfway down. I put my back to the bulkhead and stood at attention. He walked past me without slowing and said “Get the razor a little closer next time”. Best skipper I served under. RIP Sir.
— John Haines
I was the Radcon Officer at the same time Max was Assistant Suppo. Capt Shanahan had an amazing sense of humor and understood what the Nuclear Suppor Facility was all about. He was an amazing friend and mentor. He handled very difficult situations aboard the ship with aplomb and handled the less challenging ones with a smile. He counts among the best skippers I served under, at sea and ashore, in my 22 years of enlisted and commissioned service. He will be sorely missed. Fair winds and following seas.
— Rabbah Rona Matlow
Posted by Joan Thompson ~ 25 May 2020
God speed sir!
— Andrew Bassett
Truly a great Captain!!
— Alicia LaCroix Bainbridge
It was a pleasure serving under his leadership!
— Steve Reid
Yes, it was! (a pleasure serving under his leadership!)
— Maribel Talley
— German Gonzalez
He was a great CO
— Michael LoMedico
The only captain I served under
— Phoebe Mays Perault
He was a great Captain. Peaceful man
— Troy Rainey
— Louie Mazzeo
I looked for this when I visited, but I didn’t have enough time. I’m sorry because I would have liked to pay respects. It was an honor to serve with him as Captain.
— Lisa Frett
— Kirk Kimble
— Karen McKelver
He was by far the best CO I served under!
— Tana Hack
He was truly a great man. I loved serving under him. Greatly missed by myself and many others. Funny thing everyone that saw pictures of my father said that they were identical. Many said that my father could put on his uniform and Captain the ship and no one would know the difference. I truly miss him. Fair winds and following seas Captain J.F. Shananhan.
— Stacy Williams
He was a great captain I’m proud to have served under him
— Jody James
He was a great captain! He helped me become a DM and gave me great encouraging words to make the most of my career. I took his words and retired.
— Amy Clayton
Capt Shanahan, one of the greatest CO’s. He awarded me my first LOA and frocking letter to GMM3. Even more, due to his seniority in the Battle Group, AD-44 was always the first to entering port. RIP, you served ALL your Sailors well.
— Marcie Consoli
Best Capt ever!
— Cathy Mudd Graham
A SUPERB CO. A great man
— Jim Fitzgerald
— Glenn Polanco
— Richie Smith
You were truly a great and caring man Sir. RIP Captain, we now have the watch
— Jeffrey Cline
Capt. Shanahan was wonderful, good to all of us. Never met a real Captain until him. He was a people person yet, he could command without fear. Rest in piece, sore with the Irish.
— Robyn McCauley
BEST Commanding Officer/Skipper I Served With.
— Joe M Romero
He was the best captain I had in my career.Fair Winds and Following Seas Skipper
— Darold Dugger
What an awesome Captain. God please him. He sure did make us all feel safe. I was young and glue less. He made sure we all did are part and then some. Good night my Capt.
— Robyn McCauley
Many of my CO’s have passed on. They each had their merits, they were the leaders we trusted. Capt Shanahan was top notch.
— Stephen Merz
best capt…always for the crew…got us HT’s out of alot of trouble…
— Michael Cudd
Michael Cudd word. Lol yes he did
— Jason Owen
I loved him
— Jaquelin Dunlap
He was a great captain. I joined the ship in the med and because I was M-div i didn’t do galley duty, bu the time we returned to port i had been flocked, then was sent to galley duty, they sent me to the officers mess because they thought that was a better place for a petty officer, I lasted all of 2 hours. The Captain came in and lost it, never seen the man turn that red or cuss for that matter until that moment. He was not happy that a Machinist Mate petty officer was handing him lunch when I should be in the engine room.
— Cheri Dowell
Cheri Dowell that’s awesome. He was the salt of the earth; Joan Lechner he was.
— Joan Thompson
A truly great man, great captain. I went to CM in front of him, and he was still my favorite captain.
— Jason Urich
Out of all my commands (over 20 years), he was the best Captain I served under! RIH SIR!
— Tony David
Great Captain! RIP sir!
— Lesa Findley-Annis Carsten
He was the Commanding Officer of the Shenandoah when I served from 1989-1992, RIP!
— Jamie Brown
He was a fabulous CO. It was a pleasure to be his Repair Officer
— Jim Fitzgerald
I was UA on a duty day right after we got back from the Med. I got stuck in North Carolina, car got stolen, couldn’t get back in time. Tried calling the boat, but the phone lines weren’t up yet. Capt. Shananhan was very fair to me.
— Jason Urich
Totally the best captain
— Robyn McCauley
He took over after I left, but I’ve only heard good things about him. Fair Weather, Calm Seas.
— Darrell Bird
Captain’s Photo Gallery
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