Wintery weather could not stop the Change of Command at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Friday as Capt. Daniel W. Ettlich was relieved by Capt. Michael C. Oberdorf.

Ettlich, the Shipyard's 86th commander, had served since August 9, 2019. Although he has been reassigned to the Director of Fleet Maintnance for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, he will still have a connection to the Shipyard in Kittery.

"Remember, over half of the assets you work on either belong to the Pacific Fleet or are going back to the Pacific Fleet. It has been the highlight of my career to be welcomed into the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard family and to become a part of your heritage and legacy," said Ettlich during the ceremony. "Fair Winds and Following Seas as I close out this chapter on, truly, my favorite and most rewarding tour in my 29-year naval career.”

The biggest challenge of his tenure was navigating the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ettlich led the Shipyard to overcome the obstacles and meet submarine maintenance milestones critical to the ongoing infrastructure upgrades taking place at PNS. The USS California (SSN 781) was completed as the fastest availability of its kind, USS Newport News (SSN 750) was delivered on time for fleet operations, and USS Annapolis (SSN 760) was delivered back to the fleet six days ahead of schedule.

Sen Maggie Hassan addressed the ceremony and recognized the importance of the PNS workforce to its success.

“Thank you for the work that you do. Thank you for being such examples of
excellence. You are so easy to advocate for as we do the important work of making sure we are investing properly in this wonderful shipyard and keeping our country and freedom safe," Hassan said.

The Color Guard from Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit - Portsmouth presents colors as the official party salutes. Pictured (left to right): Lt. Sinclair Ender, Shipyard Chaplain; Sen. Maggie Hassan; Capt. Daniel Ettlich; Sen. Jeanne Shaheen; Capt. Michael Oberdorf; and Master of Ceremonies, Capt. Samuel Cordero.
The Color Guard from Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit - Portsmouth presents colors as the official party salutes. Pictured (left to right): Lt. Sinclair Ender, Shipyard Chaplain; Sen. Maggie Hassan; Capt. Daniel Ettlich; Sen. Jeanne Shaheen; Capt. Michael Oberdorf; and Master of Ceremonies, Capt. Samuel Cordero. (U.S. Navy photo by Jim Cleveland/Released)
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"An invaluable economic driver

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen talked about the important role of the Shipyard to the Seacoast.

“The shipyard is an invaluable economic driver here on the Seacoast, and through your position of leadership, you will have the unique opportunity to have an outsized
impact on the larger community,” Shaheen said. “This really is an exciting time to be associated with the shipyard. These new state of the art infrastructure projects will continue to transform and modernize how we do business here.”

The incoming 87th Shipyard Commander Oberdorf comes to Portsmouth from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where he was the Operations Officer.

“I want to thank Captain Ettlich for his tremendous leadership and accomplishments over the past two and half years and for the great transition over the last couple of weeks,” said Oberdorf. “To my new Portsmouth Naval Shipyard family, I look forward to joining the team and serving you as your Commander as we execute NAVSEA’s Mission Priority #1: the on-time delivery of submarines in support of our national security.”

The Shipyard was established by the federal government in 1800 and is the Navy's oldest continuously operating shipyard. It currently employs over 6,500 workers. Its first completed project was the 74-gun warship USS Washington, in 1815.

Capt. Michael Oberdorf addresses the shipyard after taking command at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Capt. Michael Oberdorf addresses the shipyard after taking command at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo by Jim Cleveland/Released)
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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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