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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)

Maritime Expeditionary Security Force celebrates Reserve SWOs commanding at sea

by Yeoman 1st Class Shaunel Waller
06 September 2023 Four Reserve surface warfare officers (SWOs) assumed command of security boat companies in Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadrons Eight and Ten in a ceremony onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Sept. 6.

Cmdr. Laura Nevel from Birdsboro, Pennsylvania; Cmdr. Matthew Snodgrass from Hampstead, New Hampshire; Cmdr. David Pascoe from Hornell, New York; and Cmdr. Brian Lucas from Sacramento, Calif.; are the first Navy Reserve O-5 SWOs to command at sea in over a decade.

The Navy established the command-at-sea insignia to recognize the responsibility placed on unrestricted line officers who are in command of, or have successfully commanded, afloat, deploying, and or operational units defined as sea-going commands under the Navy and Marine Corps. The shift recognizes the responsibility and accountability the Navy asks of its leaders regardless of their component status. 

Rear Adm. Mark Haigis, deputy commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) provided the keynote remarks for the ceremony and said designating these officers as at-sea commanding officers is a reflection of the trust and confidence that the Navy has in them.

“We recognize their exceptional leadership skills, operational experience, and unwavering commitment to our mission” said Haigis. “By granting this designation, we are trusting these officers to lead at the highest level, to make critical decisions and to use their authorities to shape the future of our Navy. It is a testament to the fact that leadership knows no boundaries and that excellence can be found in every corner of our Navy.”

Earlier this year, the Navy approved the security boat company commanding officer billets for the command-at-sea designation. After meeting the requirements, the four SWOs applied for the positions and went through a screening process prior to their detailing.

Previously, the Navy reserved the command-at-sea designation within the Maritime Expeditionary Security Force (MESF) for O-6 squadron commanding officers only. However, as part of a force redesign, MESF emphasizes Reserve warfighting readiness and the operational competencies needed to address today’s maritime security challenges, which prompted the change.

Nevel said that she was honored the Navy granted her the opportunity to serve in such an important role at sea leading Sailors.

“The weight of command is heavy, but I also know that this will be one of the best jobs I’m ever going to have,” said Nevel. “My sailors are some of the best I’ve come across in the Navy, and I could not be more honored to be their commanding officer.”

Rear Adm. Ted LeClair, deputy commander, Naval Surface Forces, also attended the ceremony, celebrating the milestone for the Reserve surface warfare community.

“We are laser-focused on identifying and delivering Navy warfighting capabilities that are best suited for the Reserve component,” said LeClair. “By adding these four SWOs to command at sea billets, we are showing our nation that the Navy Reserve is a part of our lethal and resilient force, ready for tomorrow’s fight.”

The Maritime Expeditionary Security Force is actively looking for more candidates who are interested in commanding security boat companies. To be eligible for command at sea of a Reserve security boat company, officers must meet the following requirements:

Must have an 1115 designator (Reserve surface warfare officer)

Must have previously completed a MESF officer-in-charge tour, served at a Navy Reserve Readiness Unit, or have the BX3 qualification, symbolizing successful completion of at least 18 months in an operational expeditionary warfare billet within the NECC Force

Must have the 2N1 qualification, symbolizing successful completion of the Navy Reserve Augment commanding officer/officer-in-charge command qualification process

Must have a nomination/endorsement from reporting senior for the command screening board

Must have the the 2D1 qualification, symbolizing successful completion of the MESF command qualification board

Must pass a rules of the road exam with at least an 80% score

Reserve SWOs who are interested in applying for Reserve O-5 command at sea should contact the NECC Reserve Program Director for more information at

The MESF deploys globally and operates throughout the sea-to-shore and inland operating environment protecting maritime infrastructure, providing insertion and extraction capabilities and supporting Fleet assets in support of maritime operations. Learn more about NECC and the MESF by visiting our website at: