DAHLGREN, Va. (July 12, 2010) - Capt. Michael Smith assumed command of Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division, relieving Capt. Sheila Patterson on Friday as they stood beside a 16-inch naval gun during a change of command ceremony at the Naval Support Facility Dahlgren parade field.
"I pledge to do everything possible to support you as you do what you've proven to be so capable at doing - being the technical expertise and brain trust of the Navy's warfare systems," Smith told over 700 employees watching the ceremony in person or on their computers via a live broadcast.
The ceremony also marked Patterson's retirement following 28 years of naval service. Reflecting on the command's accomplishments during her three-year tenure, she commended NSWC Dahlgren Division personnel for achievements impacting a wide-range of programs.
"The strength of Dahlgren Division lies in its people from the technical director and board of directors to the scientists, engineers and technicians in our technical departments to our business professionals throughout the command," said Patterson. "It lies in our relationships with our sponsors, our customers and partners, and our leadership."
Highlighting a few of "Dahlgren's many accomplishments," Patterson recounted a myriad of milestones in the Joint Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, Electromagnetic Railgun; Littoral Combat System Surface Warfare Mission Package; Navy Expeditionary Overwatch System; Shipboard Protection System, Hydra Hunter Joint Force Protection, Strategic and Weapon Control Systems, and Laser Weapon System, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Gunslinger and Asymmetric Defense systems Programs.
NSWC Commander Rear Adm. James Shannon, the event's principal speaker, compared Patterson's career and her command of NSWC Dahlgren Division with the naval service of Rear Adm. John Dahlgren, the "Father of American naval ordnance" and inventor of the Dahlgren gun.
"Similar to the Dahlgren Gun, Capt. Patterson opened the doors of the new Naval Directed Energy Center and successfully tracked, engaged and destroyed targets representative of potential threats, validating the military utility of Directed Energy," said Shannon. "Just like Dahlgren conducted cannon firings across the Anacostia River, Sheila led the team in conducting record-setting firings of the Electromagnetic Railgun - next generation weaponry for our 21st century Sailors and Marines."
The NSWC Commander also compared NSWC Dahlgren Division's new commander with the legendary civil war admiral known for technological innovations that helped pave the way for today's maritime force.
"I look forward to your (Capt. Smith's) dynamic leadership in taking the NSWC Dahlgren Team to new heights - delivering cutting edge science and engineering to our 21st century warfighters," said Shannon. "You too, follow Commodore Dahlgren's legacy. This is both an honor and privilege that few naval officers can claim."
NSWC Dahlgren Division Technical Director Carl Siel addressed the outgoing and incoming commanders in his welcoming remarks, thanking Capt. Patterson for her leadership and friendship and assuring support for Capt. Smith. "One thing I can say with confidence - you (Capt. Smith) have the commitment of the entire NSWC Dahlgren Division workforce behind you," said Siel.
"The NSWC Dahlgren and Dam Neck Team, NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command), the Engineering Duty Officer community, the Navy and our nation thank you (Capt. Patterson) for your hard work and your tireless dedication," added Shannon. "More importantly, your visible, and empowering leadership style as well as your genuine compassion for the men and women under your command, embodies the definition of a true leader."
Capt. Smith - who reports to NSWC Dahlgren Division from assignment as the deputy program manager for the Zumwalt Class (DDG-1000) Program at the Washington Navy Yard - also reflected on Patterson's career and achievements.
"Not only has she (Capt. Patterson) done great things working in the various programs that she has been a member of or led - not to mention being the commander here at the Warfare Center in Dahlgren for over three years - but she has tirelessly mentored numerous combat systems-focused engineering duty officers, ensuring that the community has the talent and skills to develop and support the Navy's warfare systems," said Smith. "She has ensured that this important segment of our community is ready today, and what is more, she has groomed future generations of leaders."
Smith's extensive operational and acquisition experience includes tours aboard USS Robison (DDG-12), Supervisor of Shipbuilding Pascagoula; Technical Director for Program Executive Office Ships-Fleet; North Atlantic Treaty Organization Seasparrow Project Office; the DD(X) Program; and the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations Surface Warfare Directorate in the Pentagon.
The new NSWC Dahlgren Division Commander first enlisted in the Navy in 1976, reaching the rank of Hospital Corpsman Second Class before attending Humboldt State University. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Resource Engineering and his commission as an Engineering Duty Officer.
Source: NSWC Dahlgren Division