Historical moment: U.S. Navy to officially take over Deveselu base command

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The U.S. Navy will officially hoist its flag at Deveselu military base on southern Romania on Friday, thus commissioning its new missile defense, one of two European land-based interceptor sites for a NATO missile shield vehemently opposed by Russia. Naval Support Facility Deveselu officially entered the books last week with the start of the new fiscal year, according to Capt. Eric Gardner, officer in charge of the project in Naples. He said a small Friday ceremony would formally mark the turnover.

The base represents a rare expansion of the U.S. footprint in Europe, and the even rarer construction of a new Navy base from the ground up. The base in Deveselu will be the first to feature the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system, a land-based version of the sophisticated radar tracking system installed on U.S. warships since 2004. Scheduled to become operational by the end of next year, the base — which is housed within a larger Romanian military installation — will be staffed by several hundred U.S. military, civilian and contract employees. A second site, in Poland, is scheduled to become operational by 2018. Capt. William Garren will become the site’s first commander on Friday, officials said, as quoted by www.stripes.com.

Jack Scorby, commander for the Navy Region Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia heralds the “unique ceremony” on his blog, announcing he will be there. “In the next few days I will travel to Romania to be part of a unique ceremony. On Oct. 10, we will have a ceremony that is a combination of a base establishment and an assumption of command. A base establishment is special because this base will now transition from a construction site to an actual naval support facility and the assumption of command will establish it as a naval command. It’s also historical in that the last time a new naval base was established was almost 30 years ago in Everett, Washington”, the commander writes. “The installation here in Deveselu demonstrates the value of having U.S. forces forward deployed in Europe so that we can quickly support and defend our allies (…) We are working with our allies, like our close friends here in Romania, to increase and adapt our capabilities as the threats to our common interests evolve”, he also points out.

The site at Deveselu, part of the second phase, will host Aegis SPY-1 radar and hold 24 Standard Missile-3 interceptors of the Block IB variant. A four-story radar deckhouse, similar to those used on a warship, will be moved to the site from the U.S. East Coast as part of construction. Construction at the site continues under a $134 million contract awarded by the military last year.

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