Seabee base makes history with change of command ceremony

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It was billed as a historic day on the Seabee base in Gulfport. A change of command ceremony involving several officers. One unit was decommissioned, another was renamed and then combined with yet another unit that will be called Naval Construction Group 2.

All those changes are in recognition of changing times. Captain Darius Banaji is commander of the newly formed Naval Construction Group 2.

"We're part of a smaller piece that's responding to the Naval construction force in response to changes in the fiscal climate and we're reorganizing the Navy in a downsizing," Banaji explained.  "We've positioned ourselves the best to be able to support the future and still be a relevant, capable expeditionary force."

Base commander Captain Frederick Burgess will still hold that title under the realignment.

"I think it does streamline our command and control. It sets us up for future operations and positions. That's very well for future changes that may come our way," Burgess said.

The Seabee base will still play a vital role, despite the changes.  Rear Admiral Mark Handley is the Naval Construction Forces Commander.

"Now, we will combine all of our efforts here in Gulfport and this will be the center for our efforts for the future," Handley said.

While this change of command ceremony reflects the new economic realities facing the Navy, and indeed the entire military, the mission of the Seabee is not going to be changing all that much. They're going to be helping people around the world, according to Handley.

"They remain ready to fight and win our wars when we need to, but also that they can focus on preventing war aspect of our business," Handley explained.  "That's when we go off into the Pacific or into Africa and other places and we build partnerships by the works that the Seabees do, through building clinics, schools, and other things."

A job the Seabees do better than anybody.

Another change of command will take place in June when base commanding officer Captain Burgess will be replaced by Captain Paul Odenthal.

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