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Ceremony Salutes Merger of Naval Bases


POINT MUGU — Naval personnel rang bells, blew whistles and hoisted colorful flags in a tradition-steeped ceremony Wednesday to mark the merger of two bases into one.

At 10:30 a.m., a color guard lowered the Point Mugu Naval Air Station flag for the last time. In its place rose the blue-and-white flag of Naval Base Ventura County, a new command that officially consolidates the Naval Air Station with the nearby Naval Construction Battalion Center in Port Hueneme.

The two bases had been merging administrative services, such as safety and finance, since October 1998, moves expected to save taxpayers $6 million through 2001. Wednesday's ceremony, attended by 900 people, marked the transfer of Port Hueneme's command from Capt. Jim McConnell to Capt. James Rainwater, who will lead the new combined command. McConnell will remain at the Port Hueneme base as head of the 31st Naval Construction Regiment.

"Two outstanding commands that have called Ventura County home for so many years . . . are evolving into a totally new, full-service operation," said Rear Adm. Frederic R. Ruehe, commander of the Navy Region Southwest. "The savings will accrue as we become more efficient."

Hangar 34 at the Point Mugu base was decorated with bunting, photographic displays and the flags of the 50 states. Visitors were shown the combined base's new triangular logo, which features a lighthouse with two beams representing the two facilities.

As a quintet from the Channel Islands Air National Guard played military- and aviation-themed music, 200 sailors stood at attention in white uniforms that sported new, black-and-white "Naval Base Ventura County, CA" patches on their right shoulders.

Together, the bases employ 8,552 military personnel, 6,605 civilians and 1,329 contract workers and inject about $1 billion into the Ventura County economy each year.

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