SAN DIEGO – Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) welcomed a new commanding officer as Capt. Gisele Bonitz relieved Capt. Kurt Rothenhaus during a Change of Command ceremony, Jan. 9, 2017.
Rothenhaus, who holds a doctorate in software engineering, has been the lab’s commanding officer since December 2013.
Relating some of the accomplishments of Rothenhaus’ three-year tour at SSC Pacific, Executive Director Carmela Keeney highlighted the installation of the Navy’s game-changing Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) aboard the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) which was completed in eight months, followed by the CANES installation on board the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in a record six months.
Keeney also highlighted Rothenhaus’ tremendous leadership role in many major programs that have an important impact on the Navy. Under his leadership, SSC Pacific strengthened and promoted agile software development, something Keeney believes will reap significant benefits for the warfighter in the future.
Additionally, Keeney said, the lab has become a catalyst for new capabilities in the areas of cyber operations, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, command and control, communications, and networking.
For instance, in July 2016, Defensive Innovation Advisory Board Chairman and Alphabet Executive Chairman Dr. Eric Schmidt and members of the board visited SSC Pacific. The board has been tasked by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter with finding new ways to improve innovation within the Department of Defense (DoD).
“Nowhere in the DoD have we seen innovation, engineers and operators come together as we have at this facility,” Schmidt said. “This is what we are looking for.”
Keeney said Schmidt’s recognition of the Center’s achievements was directly attributable to Rothenhaus’ efforts. But most importantly, she said, “As one of our senior leaders said to me, ‘Words can never do justice for all the constant support, the patience, the guidance, and the caring he has shown to us. Capt. Rothenhaus has been a truly great commanding officer. The best of the best.’”
Rear Adm. Dave Lewis, commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), presented Rothenhaus with the Legion of Merit award, given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service and achievements.
Rothenhaus thanked SPAWAR leadership, his family, and the many members of the SSC Pacific workforce who attended the ceremony and supported him in his tour.
“It has been the highlight of my career to be part of this command and its exceptionally talented and dedicated professionals,” he said. “It has truly been a pleasure being a part of this amazing team. Sixteen years ago, I reported to SSC Pacific for the first time, and I felt this sense of optimism for the future and wonder and positive energy and it has never waned for one moment. I know the future is bright. I knew then, and now, that this is a team of patriots that bring out the best in people. It’s made me a better person, for having been a part of it, and a better officer.”
Following the reading of orders, the new commanding officer, Capt. Gisele Bonitz, the Center’s executive officer since 2014, thanked family members and SPAWAR leadership for their trust and the opportunity to lead. “As a Navy officer,” she said, “There is no bigger honor than becoming a commanding officer.”
SSC Pacific is SPAWAR’s primary lab for Research and Development, Test and Evaluation. SSC Pacific is the Nation’s only full-spectrum, full life-cycle support lab, enabling information warfare superiority for our Naval, Joint, National and Coalition warfighters through research, development, delivery and support of integrated capabilities.