The theater aboard Naval Support Facility Dahlgren was packed Sept. 19 for a ceremony marking not only Naval Support Activity South Potomac's (NSASP's) change of command, but also the end of a long Navy journey.
Capt. Catie Hanft, who served as NSASP's top officer for three years, retired after more than 25 years of service to the Navy and the nation.
The brief and informal ceremony welcomed Nette and his family aboard NSASP and honored the work of Hanft, who presented a slide-show of photos to show Nette what NSASP is all about. "I wanted to take a few minutes and convey to Captain Nette the essence of who we are and what we do here at South Potomac," said Hanft.
After presenting the slideshow, Hanft thanked all those who supported her during her time at the helm of NSASP. "You have been instrumental in making South Potomac a success," she said.
Hanft read a letter to the crowd from a retired veteran on his way to a funeral, who received exceptional customer service while billeting at Dahlgren's Gateway Inn and Suites. The letter, said Hanft, "synopsizes what it is we do and who we are."
"...Even if we may not always get it right, 99 percent of the time we do, and that other one percent, we find a way to make it right the next time," said Hanft. "That is because of all of the dedicated efforts of all of you and, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you."
In greeting his new command, Nette first recognized his family and thanked them for their love and support. "Today, I am fortunate to follow Captain Hanft and as you can see, this command under her leadership has had much success and has had a positive impact to the installation and our surrounding communities," he continued.
"She has invested 100 percent of herself and took this installation to a new level of performance. Her initiatives, goals and passion have evolved this command into what it is, and the positive vector that it is on."
Nette also had praise for NSASP staff for their work under Hanft's guidance. "To the staff: your support and achievements are without exception. Be proud of your accomplishments," he said.
"Your dedication to duty and tireless efforts are reflected in the many accomplishments mentioned over the course of Captain Hanft's tour. I commend you and ask that you continue to maintain these high standards."
Nette went on to recognize the vital service performed by NSASP to the national defense, but cautioned that the nation's fiscal situation would challenge all Navy commands.
"Advances in air and missile defense, naval warfare systems, response forces, supporting missions in space, warfare analysis and those that protect our war fighting forces are extremely sensitive and important in our future success," he said. "So where do we fit in? It our responsibility to ensure that the work force that develops these critical systems continues to stay focused and meet these challenges.
"Because of the resource constraints placed on our nation and our Navy - now and in the future - we will not spend without thorough analysis and a look at the balance of resources in supporting our customers. Nor will we execute solely based on budgetary constraints," emphasized Nette.
"We will be constantly reminded by higher headquarters to find efficiencies and at times reduce support in areas that may or may not make sense," Nette continued. "These will not be popular, as services may diminish or be eliminated, as this is the reality of today. However, this command's decisions need to be right and rational, and be communicated."
After acknowledging the challenging times ahead, Nette concluded his remarks by thanking NSASP for helping his family adjust to life on board a new base.
"From the time my family and I arrived in the area, you all have been very gracious in your welcome and in your efforts to make us feel at home," he said. "Thank you all very much. We are excited to be part of the South Potomac Family."