Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia presided over a base establishment and assumption of command ceremony on Friday at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Deveselu in southern Romania.
The new missile defense base represents a rare expansion of the U.S. footprint in Europe, and the even rarer construction of a new Navy base from the ground up, writes “Stars and Stripes”.
Rear Adm. John Scorby, Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, was the guest speaker at the ceremony.”Today’s ceremony is an important milestone as we improve our ballistic missile defense capability in Europe,” Scorby said. “Our continued close work with our Romanian partners exemplifies how crucial our European allies are to building up NATO’s overall ballistic missile defense system.”
It follows the October 2013 ground breaking with United States and Romania which marked the official start of the on-site construction. NSF Deveselu is expected to be fully operational in late 2015 and it is one of two European land-based interceptor sites for a NATO missile shield vehemently opposed by Russia.
Capt. Bill Garren assumed duties as the first Commanding Officer of NSF Deveselu.
“It’s an honor to be here and have the opportunity to work with this international team of dedicated professional who are building the future of ballistic missile defense in Europe,” said Garren. “We have a lot of work ahead of us but our future success rests on the shoulders of this outstanding United States/Romania team. So, we have all we need to excel.”
The land-based ballistic missile defense system in Romania will be almost identical to that used on Navy Aegis-capable guided-missile destroyers and cruisers. It’s designed to detect, track, engage and destroy ballistic missiles in flight.According to “Stars and Stripes” it is a land-based version of the sophisticated radar tracking system installed on U.S. warships since 2004, reads Stars and Stripes . A second site, in Poland, is scheduled to become operational by 2018.
NSF Deveselu sits on about 430 acres. The site will consist of a fire-control radar deckhouse with an associated Aegis command, control and communications suite. Separately, it will house several launch modules containing SM-3 missiles and be staffed by about 200 U.S. military personnel, government civilians and support contractors.
With the title “Navy to commission missile defense base in Romania”, an article published on October 9 by “Stars and Stripes” says that the site is part of a NATO missile defense shield pursued by two U.S. administrations as a defense against short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Iran and other rogue states. But Russia has long criticized the project, claiming it was aimed against its own ballistic missile arsenal. First announced by the George W. Bush administration in 2007, plans for an extensive missile shield focused on long-range interceptor sites, were cut back by the Obama administration in favor of an emphasis on short- and medium-range missiles.
The current “phased, adaptive approach” for missile defense in Europe will be based on ship-borne interceptors until the permanent land sites in Romania and Poland become fully operational. It calls for regular upgrades to interceptor technology and relies on an improving network of land- and space-based sensors.
U.S. warships equipped with Aegis systems began making regular patrols in the Mediterranean in 2011, and the U.S. is moving four of the destroyers to Rota, Spain, for the missions. An advanced radar system in Turkey was completed in 2012.
The site at Deveselu, part of the second phase, will host an Aegis SPY-1 radar and hold 24 Standard Missile-3 interceptors of the Block IB variant. A four-story radar deckhouse, similar to those used on a warship, will be moved to the site from the U.S. East Coast as part of construction.
The third and fourth phases were to focus on medium- and longer-range missile threats, with construction of the second land-based site in Poland and development of two new SM-3 variants. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel canceled the fourth phase last year, which called for development of the long-range SM-3 variant by 2020.
The U.S. conducted the first test flight of its Aegis Ashore system on May 21 in Hawaii.
Naval Support Facility Deveselu officially entered the books last week with the start of the new fiscal year, according to Capt. Eric Gardner, officer in charge of the project in Naples. Construction at the site continues under a $134 million contract awarded by the military last year, concludes “Stars and Stripes”.