USNS Richard E. Byrd Hosts Change of Command Ceremony

USNS Richard E. Byrd Hosts Change of Command Ceremony

A change of command ceremony was held at Naval Magazine Indian Island (NMII) aboard the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4), March 28.

During the ceremony, Cmdr. Gary Martin was relieved by Cmdr. Michael Yesunas as commanding officer of NMII.

During Martin’s tour at NMII, his team moved more than 61,500 short tons of ordnance across the pier and serviced 95 ships with more than 51,250 crane lifts without a single accident. They also processed 6,174 inbound and outbound ammo-laden trucks.

“Your time as commanding officer of [NMII] has been one of the most successful periods in this base’s long history,” said Rear Adm. Mark Rich, commander, Navy Region Northwest. “You are leaving the base in very good shape and in very good hands.”

Under Martin’s command NMII received multiple awards, including Gold Level and Platinum Level Secretary of the Navy Energy and Water Management Awards in 2011 and 2012 respectively, and the Small Shore Command Award for the Navy Community Service Program for Environmental Stewardship.

It does not get any better than that, said Rich, speaking on awards that were presented to NMII during Martin’s tenure as commanding officer.

Rich also thanked Martin for his work with the community.

“Commander Martin worked diligently to improve on already positive Navy relationships with the tribal, state, and local leaders,” said Rich. “He told the Navy story, but he also took time to listen to the concerns of those who share the land and waters around Indian Island. He has been a fine ambassador for this base, and for the U.S. Navy.”

Before being relieved of command, Martin thanked his team for their work and dedication.

“It was truly a team effort up here, I could not have had a better team with me from my security guys to the others on my staff,” said Martin. “Thank you for all your work, you are true professionals that make a small place turn out such big results.”

As incoming commanding officer of NMII, Yesunas thanked Martin for all his hard work.

“You have left an enduring impossible legacy to follow,” said Yesunas.

Yesunas said he understood the mission of NMII based on his past command as the Commander of Provincial Reconstruction Team Kunar, Afghanistan.

“I can personally attest to the great support of our weapons,” said Yesunas. “In our fierce response to enemy fighters, we always did our job because our weapons were safe and we had confidence in them. We did not guess for a minute if our weapons would work or not, we knew they would. Our mission is to maintain that high level of confidence for our forward deployed Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines.”

During his career, Yesunas has been awarded the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, two Navy Marine Corps Achievement medals and various other personal, unit, and service awards.

NMII was commissioned in 1941, and its mission is to provide ordnance logistics support to the Pacific Fleet and joint services. The installation comprises the entirety of the 2,176-acre Indian Island located in the Pacific Northwest.

Naval Today Staff, April 1, 2013; Image: US Navy