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Subase Bangor has change of command

The Official Party salutes the colors at the Change of Command ceremony at Naval Submarine Base Bangor.  (L-R) Capt. Duane Baker, departing Commanding Officer, Subase Bangor, Rear Adm. Leendert Hering, Sr., Commander Navy Region Northwest, Capt. Douglass Biesel, relieving Commanding Officer, Subase Bangor, and Cmdr. George Ridgeway, Subase Chaplain. - Photo by John Woodmansee
The Official Party salutes the colors at the Change of Command ceremony at Naval Submarine Base Bangor. (L-R) Capt. Duane Baker, departing Commanding Officer, Subase Bangor, Rear Adm. Leendert Hering, Sr., Commander Navy Region Northwest, Capt. Douglass Biesel, relieving Commanding Officer, Subase Bangor, and Cmdr. George Ridgeway, Subase Chaplain.
— image credit: Photo by John Woodmansee

With his entire command and a marvelous setting as the backdrop, Naval Submarine Base Bangor bid farewell to Capt. Duane Baker, Jr., on Aug. 15. His two and-a-half-year reign as Subase Commanding Officer was filled with high points and low points, from construction of the Liberty Center to Sept. 11, 2001.

Through all that the past two-and-a-half years have brought, Baker has dealt with each task thrown his way. During the ceremony at the Subase Bangor Brick Courtyard, where Baker turned over command to Capt. Douglass Biesel, Baker talked about some of the things he was most proud of during his tenure at Subase.

“I have had the privilege of serving on a number of boards and in a number of organizations in our community,” explained Baker. “To my fellow Rotarians from the Silverdale Club, thanks for the ducks.” Baker was involved in the Boy Scouts, the Bremerton Symphony, the Lions Club, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and the Central Kitsap School District, just to name a few.

“The fun things really involved getting out and getting to know people,” Baker said. “That enhanced my life dramatically and I only hope that I was able to give a little bit to all those various groups inside and outside the fence.”

Throughout Bakers speech, he mentioned many very special military personnel that helped make his tour as commanding officer the best it could possibly be. Baker took time to thank the people who made the base more “user friendly and beautiful” by changing the look of the gates, building Hunley Gardens and keeping the biggest tree in Kitsap County growing strong.

“Captain Baker is leaving Bangor better than he found it,” said Rear Adm. Len Hering, commander, Navy Region Northwest. In mentioning some accomplishments Baker completed during his tenure, Hering told of the road signs Baker put up around the base, finishing, “last, but not least, the clarification of where the Subase CO should park at several locations around the base.”

Hering went on to say that the demeanor in which Baker carried himself was far and above the best he’s seen of any commanding officer.

“If anyone at work wasn’t sure how to behave, or what to do, all they had to do was watch the skipper, because he did it right.”

Hering later awarded Baker his second Legion of Merit award. Before concluding his speech, Baker focused on the most rewarding aspect of his job as Subase CO.

“Perhaps my finest moment came a few weeks ago,” said Baker, “when I had the privilege of putting a sledge hammer through the first wall in the CMO to commence construction of the yet-to-be-named Single Sailors/Single Marines Center.” He said he’d hold the Morale Welfare and Recreation folks to a Thanksgiving grand opening. Closing his remarks, Baker was typically humble.

“In summary then, I think maybe I have accomplished another of the things I said a couple of years ago, that is, I hope that I have earned your respect, I know you have more than earned mine.”

Baker’s follow on assignment is Deputy Director for U.S. Nuclear Command and Control System Support Staff in Falls Church, Va.

As the incoming CO, Biesel was sure to keep his speech short and sweet, claiming this day to be about Capt. Baker.

“I look back and think how lucky I am to be here today,” Biesel said. He was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and was transferred out the section of the building that was struck that tragic day just a few weeks prior.

“I am truly honored to be living on the ‘Best Base in the Navy.’” Biesel comes to Subase from Washington D.C., where he was assigned to the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Force Structure, Resources and Assessment Directorate. Under the command of Baker, Naval Submarine Base Bangor was named “Best Base in the Navy” by the readers of Navy Times. The Subase Galley won the Edward F. Ney Award for the second consecutive year and Bachelor Housing received the Zumwalt Award. The base also received numerous environmental awards and achieved recognition on the COMPACFLT Retention Honor Roll.

“I have some big shoes to fill,” said Biesel.

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