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NEWS | Aug. 8, 2020

AEGIS Ashore Missile Defense Facility in Romania Changes Command

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Debra Thomas, 6th Fleet Public Affairs

The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Facility (AAMDF) located aboard Naval Support Facility (NSF) Deveselu held a change-of-command ceremony in Deveselu, Romania, Aug. 7, 2020.

Cmdr. Mike Dwan relieved Cmdr. John E. Fitzpatrick as AMMDF commanding officer  during the ceremony, which was presided over by Capt. Joseph Femino, Commodore, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 64.

AAMDF, is under the operational control of the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet based in Naples, Italy, and is part of the European Phased Adapted Approach (EPAA), which protects European NATO allies and U.S. deployed forces in the region. This land-based missile defense facility is designed to detect, track, engage, and destroy ballistic missiles in flight outside the atmosphere. Its technology is nearly identical to and works in coordination with the systems used on the four forward-deployed naval forces Europe Aegis destroyers.

“Cmdr. Fitzpatrick’s dedication and efforts here have been enviable and extremely impressive. From integrating with a new Aegis baseline to improvising damage control focus and protections, while flexing to any emerging threat, he has shown his exceptional mental agility and ability to execute,” said Femino.

Fitzpatrick assumed command in 2019 and during his tenure he oversaw a complete update to the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. While the system received routine upgrades and maintenance, he worked with the U.S. Army to deploy a Terminal High-Altitude Area-Defense (THAAD) missile-interceptor battery to support NATO ballistic missile defense. In addition, he led his team through the COVID-19 global health pandemic and faced new challenges keeping Sailors safe and mission ready.

“This command is a hybrid made up of people from multiple organizations both military and civilian. All of whom are responsible for critical contributions to this complex combat ready machine,” said Fitzpatrick. “Every sailor, every contractor and every technician have made me proud to lead them on a daily basis. Their professionalism, deep level of knowledge, and flexibility allowed them to deal with all of the trials thrown at them over the last year with grace.”
Dwan comes to the command from Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center where he served as integrated air & missile defense branch lead. Other notable tours include ballistic missile defense plans officer, U.S. Naval Forces, Central Command; Naval Integrated Fire Control–Counter Air (NIFC-CA) requirements officer, Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N96) staff; and executive officer, Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer, USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53).

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the team as commanding officer and to be part of the great work that each of you have been doing every day, be it here in Romania, or back in Virginia. I will do everything I can for you. Your readiness is a deterrent to the horridness of war and I stand ready,” said Dwan.

NSF Deveselu provides essential support to AAMDS Romania in core mission areas such as safety, security and quality of life, and works jointly with the Romanian 99th Military Base to ensure the security and safety of the AAMDS site.  

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.