By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Luke B. Meineke, Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia Public Affairs
DEVESELU, Romania (NNS) -- The first group of Sailors charged with manning Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AAMDS) Romania recently arrived at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Deveselu, bringing the site one step closer to operational status.
NSF Deveselu is the host installation for Phase 2 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to ballistic missile defense. The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System has many of the same components used at sea on guided-missile destroyers and cruisers, to include the Aegis Weapon System, Vertical Launch System, and SPY-1 radar, but it can only fire the Standard Missile-3 (SM3).
Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Lewis, the AAMDS executive officer, and the Sailors who arrived with him, are part of the initial wave of personnel to arrive in Romania last month. According to Lewis, it is their job to lay the groundwork for a full team deployment.
"There's real value in actually seeing the facility first hand and formulating how you want to do business based on first-hand experience," Lewis said. "We can also liaison with the base team to formulate procedures and memorandums and understanding between us."
Similar to the blue and gold crews of a submarine or littoral combat ship, AAMDS has red, white and blue crews. Each crew is comprised of a fixed number of watch teams who deploy to Romania for a set period of time, while the other crews continue to train at their home base in Dam Neck, Virginia.
The arrival of the team is the most recent step in a month-long coordination effort between the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System tenant command and the base itself, said Capt. Bill Garren, commanding officer of NSF Deveselu.
"With the arrival of the first team, it shows us that we are getting closer to the actual operation of the site," said Garren.
On Sept. 17, 2009, President Obama announced that the United States would provide missile defenses to NATO, to include the deployment of SM-3 interceptor missiles at sites in Romania and Poland.
In addition to current ship-based assets, EPAA Phase 2 provides robust capability against short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles with the deployment of an advanced AAMDS with the proven SM-3 Block IB interceptors at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System site in Romania.
Working closely with the host-nation 99th Military Base, NSF Deveselu will provide security and living accommodations for all assigned personnel. Currently comprised of temporary facilities, the base's permanent structures are being built simultaneously with the installation of the primary tenant command's systems.
Lewis said he can easily see much progress has been made since the base's inception and establishment.
"It's impressive to see all of the different organizations working in concert on this one system; this one common project," he said.
The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System program was developed by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, and all construction in Europe is overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District. The installation will be turned over to the Navy later this year.
When completed, NSF Deveselu will be home to about 200 U.S. military personnel, government civilians, and support contractors.