U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer, Maryland-5th District, visited Naval Support Facility (NSF) Indian Head on August 12, the first of several events while spending the day in Indian Head.
Hosted by Capt. Todd Copeland, Commanding Officer, Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP), the visit provided Hoyer with updates from NSASP, the host command, as well as the tenant commands at NSF Indian Head. Copeland discussed how his job is to ensure safety and security of the installation while developing a long range strategy to ensure the tenant commands can accomplish their missions, and that some infrastructure issues on base can present challenges.
Hoyer, who has served the 5th district since 1981, began the visit by presenting a certificate of citizenship to Seaman Mariana Gonzalez of Naval Support Activity South Potomac. Gonzalez recently received a perfect score on her citizenship test, and will be sworn in as an American citizen later this month. Hoyer referenced Gonzalez’s status as a “dreamer” – her parents came to the United States from Mexico when she was three years old.
“Mariana came here (to the U.S.) and she has made America better. The Captain told me she is one of the best sailors he’s ever worked with. We were blessed by the fact that her parents brought her here, blessed by her commitment to the country,” said Hoyer. “The Captain told me you know more about US History than anyone here,” he added, getting a laugh from Gonzalez.
Hoyer added that everyone has someone from their family that came here in the past and “made the country what it is today.”
Capt. Copeland followed the presentation with an overview of tenant commands, efforts the installation has taken for environmental cleanup, and a discussion of current and future facility and infrastructure challenges. Discussing relationships with community partners, Capt. Copeland gave credit to his fire department, who provides mutual aid to Indian Head, Charles County, and surrounding counties. Just in this calendar year, they have saved seven lives and delivered two babies.
“Our impact on the community is more than just the employment opportunities and economic investment,” said Copeland, adding that the fire department responded to over 400 calls last fiscal year. “We have important partnerships with the town and the county,” he said. “I go out and talk to folks about what we do on base,” emphasizing the many collaborative efforts that allow base personnel to make a difference in the local community, he said.
Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division’s (NSWC IHD) Technical Director Mr. Ashley Johnson and Commanding Officer Capt. Eric Correll thanked Hoyer for his support for critical investment on the base in the last 10 years, including the Advanced Energetics Research Laboratory, the Energetics System and Technology Laboratory Complex, the replacement of the Goddard Power Plant, and the Agile Chemical Facility (ACF).
“These investments have enabled us to build state-of-the art facilities where our world class workforce can address the nation’s most critical energetics challenges,” Correll said of the military construction projects. “When ACF is brought fully online, it will give the Department of Defense the ability to manufacture critical materials, safely and effectively for our warfighers.”
“ACF will be the most advanced nitration facility in the country and can be part of the solution for defense supply chain challenges.” said Johnson, “For more than 130 years, our warfighters have counted on Indian Head to provide them what they needed to fly farther, hit harder and save lives.”
Correll also reiterated the importance of being the Navy’s only designated Center for Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for both arsenal (production) and depot (rebuild). Having a CITE designation, allows NSWC IHD to address under-utilized capacity on the base and partner with industry for more efficiency in meeting the mission. NSWC IHD has signed six public private partnership agreements with industry since receiving the designation in 2016.
Lt. Cdr. Luc Cummings, Executive Officer for Expeditionary Exploitation Unit One (EXU-1), gave an overview of his command’s operations. While the command is new, Cummings reminded the congressman that they have been conducting the command’s mission of collecting, processing, exploiting and analyzing improvised, conventional and advanced weapons systems “since World War II.” He added that they are the only command that conducts this work globally, on land and at sea.
Correll added that EXU-1 is much more than just analysis of improvised explosive devices, and advised Hoyer that the group has been involved in recent investigations and operations of advanced weapons systems around the world.
Col. Dean Schulz, who took over as commanding officer of Chemical Biological Incident Response Force two weeks ago, discussed the mission of his command, a “national asset” that is a strategic organization capable of responding to the growing chemical and biological terrorist threat faced by our country. The command, made up of nearly 500 Marines, civilians and contractors, forward deploys and responds with minimal warning to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) threats.
Hoyer recognized the group as responders to the anthrax and ricin incidents that occurred at the Capitol after the events of 9/11. “What you do is so important,” said Hoyer.