Naval Ocean Processing Facility Whidbey Island Change of Command and Retirement Ceremony

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Wood, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest

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OAK HARBOR, Wash. – Naval Ocean Processing Facility (NOPF) Whidbey Island held a change of command and retirement ceremony Thursday, July 13 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Cmdr. Robert S. Burns relieved Cmdr. Thomas C. Karney, who retired during the ceremony.

Cmdr. Karney assumed command back in 2015. During Karney’s tenure at NOPF, he held exemplary leadership of 425 military, civilian and Royal Canadian Forces personnel. This leadership also resulted in more than 30,000 hours of acoustic cueing on fixed and mobile sensors, tracking numerous contacts including more than 400 critical contacts. Karney was able to provide long lasting benefits to the submarine force and these accomplishments mark the culmination of a successful 26 year long naval career.

During the ceremony, guest speaker Capt. Kevin S. Mooney, commander, Undersea Surveillance, reiterated these accomplishments, stating, “Tom took over and did fantastic things. He has lead steady improvements over the couple years he has had command here.”

Mooney cited a recent memory of Karney’s noteworthy capabilities.

“The last time I came out a couple months ago, the crew was assessed as firing on all cylinders in every area that we evaluated.”

However, Mooney’s praise did not end there. He pointed out that Karney was not just a military man driven by a type “A” personality to accomplish the mission at all costs, but was able to maintain the morale of his crew.

“He was unwilling to sacrifice quality of life for that mission accomplishment improvement. He wanted to maintain that balance.” Mooney asserted. “He didn’t just have balance in his work life though. Tom has been able to maintain a good balance between his professional life and his personal life.”

Throughout Karney’s own speech, he frequently referred to the support of his family.

“Kids, thanks for the sacrifices you’ve made throughout my 26 years in the Navy, putting up with 9 moves and 8 schools.”

It became evident that Karney deeply valued the essential balance between work and family as he spent the next several minutes recognizing his children, presenting them with gifts.

“The flags you’re about to receive were flown over both the Theodore Roosevelt during the 9/11 cruise and atop the flag pole behind us.”

Karney then thanked his wife Debbie for all of her sacrifices.

“Thanks so much for taking care of me and the kids over the course of our marriage. Thanks for taking care of the NOPF sailors and their families as well. It’s hard to believe you’ve prepared and delivered over 70 baby meals over the last 4 years, providing a little bit of home-cook love. There’s definitely something in the water.”

Karney thanked this entire family again and then expressed his gratitude towards the crew of NOPF before recalling his favorite memories at the command.

“I’ll definitely remember this view, walking into the building, best view in the Navy. I’m going to miss that.”

After his speech, the official party departed the ceremony with Karney and his family going ashore for the final time.

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