Command is gone, but Gaeta’s mission remains unchanged
Although Naval Support Activity Gaeta doesn’t officially exist anymore, it’s still business as usual for the nearly 200 military and civilian personnel working there.
It’s business as usual because the Friday disestablishment ceremony was more change of command than an arrivederci to the small base.
When Cmdr. Nannette Roberts relinquished command and reported Gaeta’s disestablishment to Navy Region Europe commander Rear Adm. Noel Preston, Cmdr. Antoinette McCracken reported to Naval Support Activity Naples commander, Capt. Floyd Hehe, that she had assumed duties as officer-in-charge of the base’s Gaeta detachment only a minute or so later.
So although officially the command doesn’t exist anymore, its main mission as homeport of the 6th Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney continues unchanged.
“Gaeta presents a small footprint,” said McCracken, who had served as the base’s executive officer for about nine months, “but we’re a formidable element in the global war on terrorism.”
While Gaeta and its support to the 6th Fleet remains formidable, the small base will be getting even smaller in the coming months.
The off-base building that holds Gaeta’s school, movie theater, bowling alley and snack bar will be closing this year. Elementary school students will begin the next school year in new classrooms on the main base, in an area where the old 6th Fleet headquarters used to be before it moved to Naples.
Gaeta’s housing office, which is located in an apartment in central Gaeta, will also be moving on base.
The U.S. Navy has had a permanent presence in Gaeta since 1967, when NSA Naples opened a small post office which gradually expanded into more buildings in town. On Dec. 3, 1993, Gaeta became a separate command from Naples and 1½ years later moved to its present position on Monte Orlando.