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By IT2(IW/SW) David M. Rigge, USAAMDSRO Public Affairs Team
The U.S. Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System Romania (USAAMDSRO), located aboard Naval Support Facility (NSF) Deveselu, held a change of command ceremony in Deveselu, Romania, Oct. 14, 2022.
Cmdr. Jonathan P. Schermerhorn relieved Cmdr. Frederick G. Hettling, USAAMDSRO, during the ceremony, which was presided over by Rear Adm. Brendan McLane, commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (CNSL) and Capt. Jonathan D. Lipps, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 64.
“I am honored and grateful to be here today, to be a part of this time-honored tradition that spans thousands of years, and is held sacred among all military professionals,” said McLane. “To the Sailors here at Aegis Ashore, I am proud of your hard work, your achievements, and the sacrifices you’ve made under Cmdr. Hettling’s leadership. Through your incredible efforts, one of our nation’s most critical defense assets is on-line and ready to respond to any threat.”
USAAMDSRO is under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, 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.
Hettling assumed command of USAAMDSRO in September 2021, and led his team through rigorous events and inspections. USAAMDSRO conducted a Continuous Maintenance Availability (CMAV) and passed two Ballistic Missile Defense Readiness Assessments (BMDRA) with a 100% pass rate. They also completed a Material Maintenance Management (3M) Certification with a 97% passing score.
Other highlights while in command included site tours and capability demonstrations to the Romanian leadership, USO Super Bowl NFL players, and the U.S. Olympic volleyball team. These tours demonstrated the importance of the mission executed by the watch teams in defense of the NATO alliance against ballistic missile threats. Hettling also held a Christmas VTC with President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, explaining to them in great detail our mission and our regional impact.
USAAMDSRO also earned multiple command awards including: the Retention Excellence Award (REA) “Golden Anchor”; the Blue “H” for the Navy Surgeon General’s Health Promotion and Wellness Award; the Maritime Warfare Excellence “Black Hash Mark” in lieu of 2nd award; and the Command, Control, Communications and Information Warfare Excellence “Green Hash Mark” in lieu of 2nd award.
“Whether it be the Romanian Police companies and U.S. Master at Arms standing guard at the gate, the Romanian infantry battalions ready to respond if needed, the mess running every task to completion, or the Sailors whose professionalism and technical expertise make the act of shooting a bullet with another bullet hundreds miles away seem easy, the people of AAMDSRO are the reason for this command’s success,” said Hettling. “When I took command I said without the Sailors, Romanian servicemembers, and contractors on our team, the Aegis Site would have the same functionality as a warehouse. The same is true today. You are all the most important part of the Aegis Combat system. For one last time: One team, one fight.”
Schermerhorn assumes command following his most recent tour as Executive Officer, USS OMAHA (LCS 12) in San Diego, CA.
“I had the pleasure of serving here previously in 2018, and the beauty of the country, along with the professionalism of our Romanian allies, made this an easy choice to return and command here four years later,” said Schermerhorn. “The Sailors here both at the Naval Support Facility and USAAMDS are some of the best that I have ever worked with and for. I look forward to this experience, and being part of the team again.”
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.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.