By MCC Lowell Whitman, Naval Construction Group 1 Public Affairs
Capt. Christopher Kurgan (right) passes the Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1 flag to Capt. Mike Saum, as Command Master Chief Lawrence Sharpe looks on, during a change of command ceremony at Naval Base Ventura County, July 1. The passing of the flag is a tradition signifying the transfer of command from one to another. During the ceremony, Saum relieved Kurgan as commodore of NCG 1. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Gomez/160701-N-YG415-161)
Hundreds of Seabees, family members, and guests gathered at Naval Base Ventura County’s, Port Hueneme parade field to welcome the newest commodore of Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1 during a change of command ceremony, July 1.
During the ceremony, Capt. Mike Saum relieved Capt. Christopher Kurgan, who led the Pacific Seabee force of more than 4,500 Seabees and civilians since June 2014.
Rear Adm. Frank Morneau, commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and guest speaker for the event, spoke of his admiration for his Seabees, thanked Kurgan for his service, and welcomed Saum to his new position of command.
“Commodore Kurgan has set the example for this group, and set the example in the entire expeditionary combat force,” said Morneau. “I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done. You’ve turned vision into reality, readiness into fighting spirit, and the Seabees of this group into the traditional, warfighting Sailors that they have always stood for.”
Morneau presented Kurgan with a Legion of Merit, earned for his exceptional meritorious conduct and the performance of outstanding services and achievements.
“I’m humbled on a daily basis by the amount of leadership that occurs across this group to make things happen here in Port Hueneme, as well as across the Pacific,” said Kurgan. “I’ve been absolutely blessed over the last two years. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to serve with my heroes. Thank you for your leadership, for your support, and your example of our values. I will always cherish our time together. You exemplify our motto: with compassion for others, we build, we fight, for peace with freedom.”
While under Kurgan’s leadership, operational control of NCG 1’s homeported units aligned under the U.S. 3rd Fleet in August 2015, and the group saw the further integration of reserve forces and training, among many other accomplishments.
Capt. Michael Saum departs the change of command ceremony for Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1 as the group’s new commodore, July 1. During the ceremony, Saum relieved Capt. Christopher Kurgan, who held the position since July 2014. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Gomez/160701-N-YG415-132)
In an unelaborate, but important exchange of courtesies, both Kurgan and Saum read their orders, and the group flag was passed from one to another, signifying the transfer of command.
“To the men and women of the Pacific Fleet Seabees, you are the reason I joined the Navy. You’re the reason I’ve stayed, and the reason I’ve continued to serve,” said Saum. “Our mission is inspirational, our people motivational, and our professional values aspirational… I humbly pledge to you my very best in leveraging the authority of this position to bring the resources to bear, to set the conditions for your success. I’m all in. Let’s go.”
Saum comes to NCG 1 from Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, where he served as the deputy commander for operations from August 2014 to June 2016. Saum is a Seabee combat warfare officer, a member of the acquisition professional community, a registered professional engineer in California and Oregon, and a basic diving officer.
His personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal, five Meritorious Service Medals, and three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, among various other unit and individual awards.
Seabees from Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1, Naval Mobile Construction Battalions 3 and 5, and Underwater Construction Team 2 stand during a change of command ceremony for NCG 1 at Naval Base Ventura County, July 1. During the ceremony, Capt. Mike Saum relieved Capt. Christopher Kurgan as commodore. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Gomez/160701-N-YG415-154)