Story by Mike Andrews on 08/06/2019NORFOLK, Va. "I relieve you, sir."
With those simple, yet time-honored words, Rear Adm. Dean VanderLey relieved Rear Adm. Darius Banaji as Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic and Fleet Civil Engineer, U.S. Fleet Forces Command during a change of command ceremony conducted on the front lawn of the Lafayette River Annex on August 6, 2019.
Rear Adm. John W. Korka, Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, and Chief of Civil Engineers, presided over the ceremony and was the guest speaker.
In his remarks to guests and the NAVFAC Atlantic work force, Korka focused on command's role in the defense of the nation.
"When I picture NAVFAC Atlantic," said Korka, "I see a foundry, a workshop that enables fleet readiness and lethality in an era of great power competition. It serves as one of our highest RPM engine rooms across NAVFAC for delivering products and services for the Fleet and the U. S. Marine Corps."
Korka presented Banaji the Legion of Merit in recognition of a command tour that began July 27, 2016. Under his leadership, NAVFAC Atlantic executed over 60,000 construction, repair, services contracts and lease actions in excess of $20 billion in support of Navy and Marine Corps bases. Upon receiving the award, Banaji credited the NAVFAC Atlantic work force for the accomplishments during his three years at the helm.
"I'll wear this award proudly on behalf of the men and women of NAVFAC Atlantic, my four commanding officers and our 54 Navy & Marine Corps field offices across the globe," said Banaji. "These men and women proudly rise to the challenge every single day; they earned this award."
"Some say change is the enemy," said Banaji as he reflected on the accomplishments of the NAVFAC Atlantic work force. "I believe that change is the catalyst for improvement and an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. And that we have done. We have a renewed and deeper focus on the development of our workforce, and have swiftly adapted and improved many, many processes. All this enabled NAVFAC
Atlantic to deliver products and services at the speed of relevance."
Banaji's 32-year Navy career includes a variety of experiences in expeditionary construction battalions, with facilities assignments as commander, assistant resident officer in charge, construction division director, public works, and operations officer. NAVFAC Atlantic was his sixth tour in command.
Banaji's next assignment will be as Deputy Director, Defense POW and MIA Accounting Agency at Hickam Air Force Base, Hi, where he will lead the team handling research, investigation, recovery, identification, and supporting functions to account for missing military personnel.
VanderLey becomes the 62nd commander of NAVFAC Atlantic, returning to the command for the third time in his career, most recently as Vice Commander.
Upon assuming command, VanderLey paid tribute to his predecessor.
"NAVFAC Atlantic is a phenomenal command due to the leadership of Adm. Banaji," said VanderLey. "I think that many of the successes we will see over the next years will be based on the foundation you have laid over the past three years."
VanderLey concluded his remarks with a reflection on the preparations he undertook before assuming his new command, focusing on the word "hope" as an expectation of a bright future based on hard work.
"It's my commitment to provide that hope to NAVFAC Atlantic," said VanderLey. "We are a phenomenal organization full of talented people and our best days are ahead of us."
NAVFAC is the Systems Command that delivers and maintains quality, sustainable facilities, acquires and manages capabilities for the Navy's expeditionary combat forces, provides contingency engineering response, and enables energy security and environmental stewardship. NAVFAC Atlantic includes four Facilities Engineering Commands that are the single provider of all NAVFAC products and services for Navy and Marine Corps clients in their regions.