New leader takes command at Gulfport Seabee base

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There is new leadership at the Gulfport Seabee base. Captain Rick Burgess handed over the command to Captain Paul Odenthal during a traditional change of command ceremony at the base on Thursday morning.

The ceremony traces its roots in naval history.

"It is a time honored tradition drawn from the customs and laws of sea faring men of old," the emcee told the crowd.

This patriotic tradition is part farewell and part welcome. Capt. Burgess is headed to the Pentagon after successfully leading the Gulfport Seabee base for the past two years.

"Make no mistake, our war fighters who are at the pointed end of the spear, are successful because of the training they received at this base under the leadership of Captain Rick Burgess," said guest speaker, Rear Admiral Jack Scorby. "The men and women who trained here, went on to work for combatant commanders on every corner of the globe, from Afghanistan to Africa, from Guantanamo Bay to Japan."

Capt. Burgess repeated a favorite expression of his, telling the crowd, "It's good to be in Gulfport."

"Gulfport and the entire coast community is one of the most supportive and warm and patriotic communities that I have served in," said the outgoing commander.

His replacement at command, Captain Paul Odenthal is no stranger to the coast, having served as NMCB 133 commander from 2007 to 2009. He's glad to be back in Gulfport and says the biggest challenge will be a shrinking military budget.

"We're facing some very challenging times for our Navy and our nation. I truly appreciate though that you haven't let off. You've continued the hard work and dedication, even though we're in times with great adversity and changes that affect many of you at a very personal level," said Capt. Odenthal.

Capt. Burgess is headed from Gulfport to Washington D.C.  His new assignment is with the Chief of Naval Operations staff at the Pentagon.

Before taking command of the Seabee base, Captain Odenthal's most recent assignment was executive officer at Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Norfolk, Virginia.

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