PANAMA CITY, Florida – Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU) observed its 17th change of command ceremony in Panama City, Florida March 30, 2022.
Cmdr. Dustin Cunningham relieved Capt. (Sel) Kiah B. Rahming as the NEDU Commanding Officer on Wednesday. Rahming accepted orders to Commander, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Millington, Tenn. Prior to taking command of NEDU, Cunningham served as the DDG 51 Program Manager’s Representative (PMR) where he managed the DDG 51 portfolio constructed in Bath, Maine.
Throughout Rahming’s three-year tenure as the Commanding Officer of the U. S. Navy’s only experimental diving unit, the command mission excelled in the face of adversity. Despite COVID-19 pandemic challenges, national social unrest, and facility repairs associated with hurricanes, the command kept diving and the mission prevailed.
“The truth is people are the most important aspect of any organization, but there is something different about the NEDU family. We have been constantly challenged to fulfill our mission and we have risen to the occasion regardless of the obstacles,” said Rahming. “As leaders at every level, we prove to be skilled problem solvers who employ the Get Real, Get Better philosophy. So much so that I am confident that the NEDU team is the most talented and toughest group of people that our Navy has to offer.
Cunningham, a native of Cambridge, Ohio, is an Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) and Diving Officer who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2006 where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering. He also holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School, in addition to a Master’s Degree in Defense Technology and Systems from the National University of Singapore.
“I am very excited to begin this tour at NEDU,” said Cunningham. “Having served at NAVSEA headquarters (NAVSEA 00C), I’m familiar with our command’s dynamic and unique mission and I am honored to lead this incredible team as we continue to deliver readiness and capability to our warfighters.”
Cunningham qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer aboard USS Mitscher (DDG 57) while serving as Communications Officer and Strike Warfare Officer from June 2006 to October 2008. During this tour, he executed his option for re-designation as an Engineering Duty Officer, and received orders to the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) for his graduate studies.
Following NPS, Cunningham attended the Marine Engineering Diving Officer (MEDO) course at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, Panama City, Florida, were he completed diving officer training. Cunningham qualified as an EDO at the Office of the Director of Ocean Engineering, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV), Naval Sea Systems (Code 00C) where he served as Assistant for Salvage from August 2012 to March 2015. During this tour, he was also selected from a rigorous process to be a Military Assistant for the 57th Presidential Inauguration, supporting distinguished VIPs and their family members.
Following his time at NAVSEA 00C, he was selected to be the first Assistant Officer in Charge (AOIC) for the newly established Forward Deployed Regional Maintenance Center, Detachment
Rota, Spain, overseeing underwater ship husbandry diving operations, and surface ship maintenance and modernization.
In 2018, Cunningham reported to the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, in Bath, Maine as the Zumwalt Class Test Officer where he led the test and activation programs for DDG’s 1001 and 1002. Since March 2021, he has been serving as the DDG 51 Program Manager’s Representative, responsible for the DDG 51 portfolio constructed at Bath Iron Works (BIW).
His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards), and various personal, unit and service awards.
NEDU is an echelon three Naval Sea Systems Command field activity located in Panama City, Florida. As a subsidiary of SUPSALV, NEDU’s mission is to conduct manned, unmanned and biomedical research, development, test and evaluation of diving, hyperbaric, life support and submersible systems and procedures to ensure all diving equipment and procedures meet the safety standards and operational requirements to expand the advantage in undersea and extreme environments.