NEWS | Oct. 19, 2018

SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic welcomes new commander

By Jack O’Neill Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic

Capt. Wesley Sanders became the fifth commanding officer of Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic during a change of command ceremony held Oct. 18, 2018, at the SSC Atlantic conference center. During the ceremony, Capt. Scott Heller, who has commanded SSC Atlantic since July 2015, retired with more than 30 years of naval service.

As the new commanding officer, Sanders leads SSC Atlantic's approximately 4,450 federal civil service employees, 125 military personnel and 9,000 industry partners located at the center's headquarters at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and at other sites in Hampton Roads, Virginia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Tampa, Florida; Washington, D.C.; and overseas locations in Europe, the Middle East and Antarctica.

Vice Adm. David Lewis, former commander of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), currently director of the Defense Contract Management Agency, was a guest speaker at the ceremony. Lewis noted that while processes are important, the focus today is on results.

“Under Capt. Heller’s leadership, SSC Atlantic has delivered on its commitments and produced the results warfighters need,” he said. “You are way ahead of the power curve. Your stuff works. When there is an install, the equipment is on the pier and the people are there to carry through on the commitment.”

Rear Adm. C.D. Becker, current SPAWAR commander and presiding officer of the change of command ceremony, praised Heller’s success achieving warfighters’ information warfare needs in the last three years as commanding officer of SSC Atlantic.

“We are in the business of our national defense, and there is no more critical time than today,” he said. “The capabilities you have been delivering – and will continue to deliver – are making a difference every day in the lives of our Navy, Marine Corps and joint warfighters.”

Heller, whose most recent tour as the commanding officer of SSC Atlantic was his third assignment to the center, thanked Team SPAWAR for coming together to meet the needs of their naval and joint mission partners.

“Out of 325 million Americans, 14,000 government civilians, uniformed military and contractors contribute to SSC Atlantic,” Heller said, adding “That’s 0.004% of Americans who are on this team. The entire nation is more dependent on your efforts for their security than most will ever know. This is a large, hidden responsibility and you carry it well.” 

Sanders, who comes to SSC Atlantic after serving as Chief of Staff at Commander, Fleet Readiness Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, said the SSC Atlantic’s influence and impact reaches around the world, to the men and women who are standing the watch and protecting liberties. “I am honored to serve with the men and women of SSC Atlantic, our industry partners and this outstanding community to make a difference,” he said.

An Albany, Georgia native, Sanders earned his commission from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1993 at Jacksonville University in Florida. He was designated a Naval Flight Officer in July 1996. He reported to VAW-123 ‘Screwtops,’ flying the E-2C Hawkeye, based at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia in 1997.

From 2013 to 2015, he served as Industrial Production Support and Compliance Officer at FRC Southwest. He served as Executive Officer, then Commanding Officer of NAF Atsugi, Japan, at FRC Western Pacific from 2010 to 2013. Among his other assignments was a tour at SPAWAR Space Field Activity National Reconnaissance Office as the Deputy Program Manager for a rapid development acquisition ACAT II program. As part of his Space Systems Master’s degree at the Naval Postgraduate School, he designed the Attitude and Directional Control System for a satellite released from the space shuttle.

In an assignment as Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer Officer Community Manager from 2006 to 2008, he managed career progression plans for 330 AEDOs. He served as the Advanced Hawkeye Program Integrator at DCMA Bethpage, New York, from 2002 to 2006. The captain also deployed to Afghanistan as a Quality Assurance Representative and contracting office technical representative for contracts supporting quality of life and base security.

SSC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable C4ISR, cyber and information technology capabilities.