Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NSWC IHEODTD) celebrated the people, history and achievements of the former Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NAVEODTECHDIV) in a ceremony at the Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Stump Neck Annex, on May 16.
The event recognized the merger of former NAVEODTECHDIV to former NSWC Indian Head Division as NSWC IHEODTD; and recognized both those who have provided - and those who continue to provide - an uninterrupted flow of products, services, solutions and support to the EOD warfighter.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management) Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development & Acquisition), Tom Dee, served as special guest speaker for the ceremony. Dee served as commanding officer of NAVEODTECHDIV from July 2003 to October 2006, before joining the civil service in 2007.
“It is such a pleasure for me to be here today, and to have been associated with this Command for the past two decades and with the EOD community for the past three,” said Dee. “Since 1942, you have been at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to confront contemporary threats to our security. So let me congratulate each Sailor, Soldier, Marine, Airman, civilian and family member of this Command for what you’ve done over the past 70 years, and what you will do as we begin the next 70 years of providing the best analytical and technical support to the Joint Services EOD Community.”
The event also served as a reunion of sorts, as more than 150 guests - including former civilian and military members - were welcomed.
Master of Ceremonies, Lt. Cmdr. John Laney, welcomed guests and reminded everyone of the occasion’s purpose. “Today we recognize the achievements of the former NAVEODTECHDIV, and celebrate a mission that has never diminished in importance, and continues on as part of the merged Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division,” said Laney. “In fact, this mission is as critical now as ever before, and will remain imperative as long as there are joint EOD warfighters to support. It is only fitting that we pause and reflect upon the rich history and heritage of this command and its people.”
Laney recounted the history of Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and pointed out that it was an outgrowth of the United Kingdom’s experience at the beginning of World War II, during Germany’s Blitz on Britain, where tons of mines and bombs were dropped.
“About one-tenth of the mines and bombs were purposely fused, not to detonate until from one to eight hours later,” said Laney. “At the height of the Blitz, more than 2,200 separate areas within the city of London were evacuated due to unexploded bombs. As mines were also washing ashore on the beaches, first mine and bomb disposal squads were formed. “
As a result of the experience, the U.S. Navy established a Naval Mine Disposal School at the newly established Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D.C., in May of 1941. Later that same year, a Naval Bomb Disposal School was also established.
“In June 1942, the Bureau of Ordnance authorized and established the Explosive Investigation Laboratory (EIL) at Stump Neck,” said Laney. “Once established as a viable program within the Navy, the Naval Mine and Bomb Disposal Schools were combined into the Naval Ordnance Disposal Unit. The EIL was re-designated as the Ordnance Investigation Laboratory (OIL) in 1944, and two years later moved to the Naval Powder Factory at Indian Head, Md.”
The Navy was assigned Joint Service EOD responsibilities for both basic training and research and development in 1951. Two years later, the research and development tasks were transferred to the OIL, and re-designated the Naval Explosive Ordnance Technical Division located at Stump Neck, while the training function was renamed the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School, and remained at the main base of the Naval Powder Factory at Indian Head.
In 1962, the Technical Division was re-designated the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Facility (NAVEODFAC), and steadily increased its contribution to the growth and development Joint Service EOD Program until the Secretary of the Navy assigned the Navy as the single manager for military explosive ordnance disposal technology and training.
Though its name changed from time to time over the years, the unit’s mission was to provide EOD technicians with the proper tools to keep them alive while performing their jobs. “In late 1980, NAVEODFAC was re-designated the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Center,” said Laney, “and 14 years later, in 1994, it was renamed Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NAVEODTECHDIV).”
In October 2007, NAVEODTECHDIV was aligned under the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) as a division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC). Most recently, on Feb. 25, 2013, the NAVSEA Commander directed the command to merge with NSWC Indian Head, to become NSWC Indian Head EOD Technology Division, which became official Oct. 1, 2013.
“The Navy took this action because together the organizations offer greater capacity and capability to effectively meet warfighters’ needs as a single command,” said Laney. “The merger strengthens and improves the Division’s technical capabilities and creates new opportunities to leverage business practices.”
“There is no doubt that the NSWC IHEODTD organization is much stronger today because of our shared commitment to support the warfighter,” said NSWC IHEODTD Acting Technical Director, Karen S. Burrows. “Whenever people talk about Indian Head EOD Technology Division, they aren’t just referencing one particular department or code or location or even product - they’re talking about the command as a whole, and our success is a reflection of all of us.”
NSWC IHEODTD Commanding Officer, Capt. Tom Smith, also emphasized the magnitude of the work done by the command.
“Uncounted numbers of American and coalition Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines have been spared death or injury from improvise explosive devices due to the courage, skill, tenacity and mission dedication of EOD technicians who have rendered safe or eliminated these threats on the battlefield,” said Smith. “Without the support that you provide, ranging from the tactical to the strategic, we would not have anything like the EOD capability we have today.”
NSWC IHEODTD - a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy’s Science and Engineering Enterprise - is the leader in ordnance, energetics, and EOD solutions. The Division focuses on energetics research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, and disposal; and provides warfighters solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, render safe, recover, exploit, and dispose of explosive ordnance threats.