Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) held a prayer service Sept. 25 in Admiral Leutze Park for its employees at the Washington Navy Yard (WNY). NAVSEA personnel as well as other WNY employees were invited to the informal gathering where speakers addressed the recent tragedy and the plan ahead.
The NAVSEA headquarters building, Building 197 at WNY, was the site of the shooting incident Sept. 16 in which a gunman killed 12 personnel. In the following days, Navy leadership has been investigating the incident as well as providing various services to WNY personnel.
NAVSEA employees were informed that above all, counseling was available to them from such teams as the Special Psychiatric Rapid Intervention Team (SPRINT). Guests were then introduced to Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) James Dorwart, Naval District Washington Roman Catholic chaplain. Dorwart offered a brief invocation and also reminded the guests of the services available to them, including those of the chaplains. After the prayer, Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller, NAVSEA Naval Systems Engineering deputy commander and chief engineer, addressed the crowd to inform them of what can be expected in the coming days and weeks.
“We wanted to take this opportunity to get everyone together, since we’ve been scattered in a few different directions,” said Fuller. “The real purpose today is to get together, share your experiences and talk. I really encourage folks to take advantage of the counseling.”
Fuller also addressed working situations that NAVSEA personnel are currently facing due to the ongoing FBI investigation taking place in the NAVSEA building. He explained that personnel could expect NAVSEA operations and working spaces to soon move to the former U.S. Coast Guard headquarters building at Buzzard Point in Anacostia, not far from WNY. Fuller also praised personnel for their professionalism in the wake of the shooting, and the communication between all levels of the command structure.
“I’ve been amazed at how well we done as far getting the word out,” said Fuller. “We had almost everybody mustered within about two hours of the evacuation in Building 197, despite some being sheltered in place, scattered around the Navy Yard, or not getting in to work yet. So we’ll keep pushing out information and keeping everyone informed as best we can.”
Fuller explained how and when personnel can expect to retrieve personal belongings and work equipment that is still inside Building 197, including computers, cell phones and Common Access Cards (CACs). After a brief question and answer session, Fuller reiterated his insistence on NAVSEA personnel taking advantage of the services available to them.
“I really want to urge folks, though, that as we’re getting back to business and staying operational, let’s not lose sight of our people,” said Fuller. “I still want mission one to be taking care of our people, and taking care of each other.”
Fuller closed the event by praising the NAVSEA employees for their extraordinary efforts in maintaining mission readiness since the shooting. Despite the tragic events, NAVSEA operations have continued to provide their services to the fleet in the interim, including awarding contracts, overseeing ship construction, conducting critical testing, and accepting delivery of the future USS Coronado (LCS 4).
For more information on events in Naval District Washington, visit www.facebook.com/NavDistWash.