Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) completed a change of command ceremony onboard Naval Amphibious Base Coronado May 8.
Rear Adm. David Welch relieved Rear Adm. John Wade, becoming the third SMWDC commander since the command’s establishment in 2015. Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Vice Adm. Richard Brown presided over the ceremony.
"SMWDC has evolved into the most critical of all Surface Force training commands, helping the Surface Force - and the Navy - keep pace with changing technology and the changing threat environment," said Brown. "But not only for the Surface Force, our Fleet Commanders and Numbered Fleet Commanders want SMWDC – and more of it. SMWDC has become a low-density, high-demand asset."
SMWDC is one of five WDCs now in operation across the Navy enterprise to increase lethality and tactical proficiency by developing competent and confident warfighters, developing procedures to harness the full capability of weapons systems and sensors, provide support to the deployed warfighter, and to look at future needs through the lens of capability assessments and experimentation which drive future Navy requirements.
SMWDC has established its role as an integral part of the Surface Fleet since Wade’s arrival as commander in August 2016. Since then, the roster of Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTIs) in the Fleet increased from 85 to 231 patch-wearers. The SMWDC team, supported by senior mentors and qualified WTIs have led several Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercises at sea.
“It has been an incredible honor to serve with the men and women of SMWDC. Their hard work and total commitment to excellence helped increase the lethality of our ships, and enabled our Sailors and staffs to learn faster, and have more confidence and competence in their warfighting abilities," said Wade. "I'm also proud of our teamwork and coordination with the other Warfighting Development Centers, the training enterprise, the technical community, TYCOMs, Fleet Commanders, and OPNAV, as we collectively sought to make our Navy better, more competitive, and best postured for the future. It has been a total team effort!”
Wade’s next assignment is Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 located in Norfolk, Va. CSG 12 exercises oversight of unit level and integrated phase training, and overall operational readiness for the entire strike group.
Welch arrived as the incoming commander of SMWDC having recently served as the Director, International Engagements, N52 Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. His previous at sea assignments include time aboard cruisers, destroyers, and amphibious assault ships, including command of USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31, and Surface Warfare Officer Schools Command (SWOS).
“Throughout my career I have had the good fortune of working with teammates who understand the importance of sustained superior performance,” said Welch. “I am grateful to come to an organization that Rear Admiral Wade and his team have developed into a key part of the Surface Warfare Enterprise. The bar is set extremely high, and I’m ready and eager to continue this vital work.”
SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and exists to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains. SMWDC headquarters is at Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California focused on Sea Combat, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Amphibious Warfare and Mine Warfare.