Navy personnel salute during the playing of "Taps" at a memorial service for the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting.

Navy personnel salute during the playing of "Taps" at a memorial service for the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting. Charles Dharapak/AP

Naval Sea Systems Command Employees Likely to Remain Scattered for Months

Main office remains a crime scene after shooting; Obama, Hagel, speak at memorial ceremony.

The Naval Sea Systems Command has scattered its employees across many different locations as its headquarters remains closed, the agency has announced.

Its main office building, Washington Navy Yard building 197 -- which housed 3,000 NAVSEA employees and was the location of a Sept. 16 mass shooting that left 13 dead including the gunman -- is still an active crime scene, the Navy said. The office will also require “extensive rehabilitation” once the FBI and other law enforcement agencies finish their investigation.

“As for the duration we will be in this mode, we are planning on months,” Bill Deligne, NAVSEA’s executive director, said on the command’s Facebook page. Deligne added he eventually hopes to create a “matrix” showing where every employee is located. Temporary workspaces include other Navy Yard sites, contractor facilities off base and the nearby, recently vacated Coast Guard headquarters at Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington, D.C.

The entire Navy Yard was closed for two days after the shooting, only reopening on Thursday.

The base hosted a memorial service Sunday to honor the 12 victims of the shooting, which was allegedly carried out by Aaron Alexis, a subcontractor for Hewlett Packard working on an upgrade to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. President Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus were among the speakers.

“Your loved ones will not be forgotten,” Obama said. “They will endure in the hearts of the American people and the hearts of the Navy that they helped to keep strong, and the hearts of their co-workers and friends and their neighbors."

Obama highlighted details of each of the 12 victims -- all of whom were civilians or contactors -- including their commitment to federal service, before pivoting to the larger issue of gun violence in the United States.

Hagel expressed a sense of unity, saying all 3 million individuals in the Defense Department family have felt the pain of the tragedy.

“Today,” Hagel said, “we come together at this historic post to begin a long road of healing and recovery. It is a path we walk together.”

He added all Navy Yard personnel, especially those in building 197, demonstrated bravery during the shooting, and the entire Navy is “responding with resolve.” 

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