Lake Jackson Native Assumes Command of Navy's Fleet Survey Team

Cmdr. J.P. Garstka, left, and Cmdr. Mike Svatek, a Lake Jackson native, salute one another as guest speaker Capt. Greg Ireton stands by as Svatek relieves Garstka as commanding officer of Fleet Survey Team at a ceremony Oct. 12 at Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi.

Stennis Space Center, Miss. — Lake Jackson native and Navy Cmdr. Mike E. Svatek assumed command of Fleet Survey Team from Cmdr. J.P. Garstka at a ceremony Oct. 12, at John C. Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi.

Capt. Greg Ireton, commanding officer of the Fleet Survey Team’s superior command, the Naval Oceanographic Office, participated in the event as the guest speaker and overseeing officer.

“The authority, responsibility and accountability that come with command can be intimidating. A commanding officer is charged with taking care of his or her Sailors, but also has financial, safety, readiness and training responsibilities,” Ireton said. “We must hold ourselves to the highest level of integrity. Commanding officers are empowered and bound by key regulations and law.”

Nicknamed the Navy’s “Bottom Mappers,” the Fleet Survey Team is a specially trained group of military and civilian personnel who deploy globally to conduct hydrography surveys and related environmental assessments to enable safe and effective maritime navigation for naval and joint forces. The team has conducted 11 hydrographic surveys in 10 countries this year.

Ireton commended Garstka on a job well done during his two-year tenure in command of the Fleet Survey Team and pronounced his confidence in Svatek’s leadership abilities, saying, “You have big shoes to fill, Mike. However, I know you are up to the challenge of command. You will excel and you will continue to carry Fleet Survey Team to the next level.”

Garstka will now report to Washington, D.C., as deputy executive assistant to the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare.

Svatek graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biological systems engineering from Texas A&M and was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy in 2001. He later earned a master’s degree in engineering management from Old Dominion University and a second master’s degree in meteorology and physical oceanography from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Svatek began his Navy career as a submarine officer before transferring into the meteorology and oceanography community in 2008. He most recently served as oceanography community manager at the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Millington, Tennessee.

Svatek’s personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals as well as various unit, campaign and service awards.

Fleet Survey Team is a rapid-response team with the capabilities to conduct quick-turnaround hydrographic surveys anywhere in the world. Comprised of approximately 65 military and civilian members, Fleet Survey Team is subordinate command of the Naval Oceanographic Office located at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

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