DEVESELU, Romania – A Kenton High School graduate and Kenton, Ohio native is part of a new and unique Navy command providing critical missile defense to a large part of Europe.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Sylas Smith is a construction mechanic serving at Naval Support Facility Deveselu, one of the Navy’s newest commands defending against the threat of ballistic missiles.
A Navy construction mechanic is responsible for general repair and maintenance of all civil engineering support equipment on base.
“The best thing about my job is being a Seabee; no matter where we are, I like being the go-to guy to get it fixed,” said Smith.
NSF Deveselu is the first Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Facility placed into operation, providing support to NATO’s overall ballistic missile defense system. Commissioned in October 2014, the installation is home to U.S. Navy Sailors who work with their Romanian partners to defend against the threat of a ballistic missile attack.
“The importance of our Sailors’ mission in Romania can’t be overstated,” said Capt. Jon Grant, commander NSF Deveselu. “Because we are here, our combatant commanders have a lot of flexibility to position their sea-based missile defense assets where they’ll have the largest strategic impact, and that wouldn’t be possible without our Sailors stepping up to the plate and knocking it out of the park 24/7, 365 days a year.”
Assigned to U.S. 6th Fleet, sailors are on watch throughout the European region and are important assets supporting the European Phased Adaptive Approach to enhance the security of that area of the world from ballistic missile, according to Navy officials.
Navy personnel at NSF Deveselu are supported in their efforts by forward deployed units in Rota Spain, such as the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Carney (DDG 64), and USS Donald Cook (DDG 75). Having four destroyers based in Rota gives the U.S. 6th Fleet flexibility to send these ships to a variety of locations for a range of missions, while at the same time providing a large umbrella of protection for European allies.
Approximately 200 officers and enlisted men and women are stationed in Deveselu. Their highly-specialized jobs are critical to mission success, according to Navy officials.
“Being able to spend time working as a supervisor here and making sure programs are running correctly gives me a sense of pride,” said Smith.
Living abroad is challenging, Navy officials explained. The young men and women are highly motivated, and quickly adapt. The sacrifices are worthwhile to ensure the safety of our allies and loved ones back home.
Supporting this important mission, Smith explained that his fellow service members know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“I joined the Navy because I felt like I needed to serve my country and I always have a sense of pride when I talk about it,” said Smith.