DAHLGREN, Va. - The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) welcomed a new commanding officer during a change of command ceremony held on the Potomac River Test Range, Nov. 18.
NSWCDD military and civilian personnel -joined by guests, including former NSWCDD commanding officers - hailed Capt. Godfrey "Gus" Weekes, incoming commanding officer, and bade farewell to Capt. Brian Durant, who led NSWCDD since 2013.
Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Commander Rear. Adm. Druggan, the event's principal speaker, reflected on the command's heritage and Durant's leadership.
"Dahlgren has an absolutely storied history," said Druggan, recounting NSWCDD's evolution from a proving ground in World War I to the diverse, technology-centric command that exists today. "That heritage has been built upon, and is incredibly important today as we go forward."
Durant built upon Dahlgren's heritage by removing obstacles and overcoming challenges while enabling the command's scientists and engineers to deliver capability to the warfighter - fulfilling his vision upon taking the helm as NSWCDD commanding officer three years ago.
"We always have to have the capability," said Druggan. "Dahlgren does that every day so I think that is one of the special things about Dahlgren. Its contribution to the Navy is direct to the warfighter. I hope you take great pride in that, Brian, because you were significant to making it happen these last few years."
Durant received the Legion of Merit for his "exceptionally meritorious" service while leading NSWCDD.
The short list of NSWCDD accomplishments during Durant's tenure includes improvements in chemical-biological defenses, directed energy weapons, the electromagnetic railgun, special operations support, cyber security, and electronic warfare. "You and your team at Dahlgren have done terrific," said Druggan. "I'm thankful, the Navy is thankful, and you have raised the bar."
Moreover, the admiral expressed confidence that Weekes will continue the command's track record of success.
"Gus Weekes is the perfect and ideal fit for this division," said Druggan. "I've worked with Gus for many years and he is fantastic, a true professional, and will lead Dahlgren to continue the work (Durant) started."
Durant, however, credited NSWCDD government employees, contractor personnel, and military members for the command's success and achievements.
"Alright, so all that stuff, it wasn't me," he said. "That was you out in the audience - my team. You did all the work so I want to recognize you for that. None of this was about me. It was about making your jobs better and more effective. All of these are your accomplishments and at the most, I was just an enabler."
As Durant concluded his remarks, NSWCDD marked the occasion with a five-round burst from a nearby 5-inch Mk45, Mod 4 gun.
As the five shots rang out across the gun line and throughout Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren, the audience applauded.
After Durant and Weekes each read their respective orders, Weekes greeted his new command.
"Thank you for coming and thank you to the team that put this ceremony together," said Weekes, offering special thanks to extended members of his family who traveled to the event.
Moreover, he spoke to the Navy leaders who gave him an opportunity to lead NSWCDD into the future.
"Thank you for the trust and privilege of this selection, the privilege afforded me to lead this organization which is connected to so much of naval combat arms history," said Weekes. "In two years, in 2018, Dahlgren will celebrate its centennial - 100 years of combat arms and supporting the Navy and the nation. I'm extremely proud to be a part of that."
In his next tour, Durant will serve as a program manager for the SM-2, Block 3 missile program at Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, also located at NSF Dahlgren.
NSWCDD is a premier research and development center that serves as a specialty site for weapon system integration. The command's unique ability to rapidly introduce new technology into complex warfighting systems is based on its longstanding competencies in science and technology, research and development, and test and evaluation.