SPAWAR awards $750M contract to 21 firms (copy)

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic’s headquarters are on the Naval Weapons Station in Hanahan. Its name is changing to Naval Information Warfare Center.

A mainstay of the local defense-contracting industry and major source of high-technology jobs in the region is being rebranded. 

SPAWAR — short for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic — is being renamed as the Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic effective Monday.

The command's West Coast sister organization also is be renamed. It will switch to the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific starting next week. The San Diego-based Pentagon agency that oversees the two will remain as the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

The East Coast outpost is based at the Naval Weapons Station off Remount Road in Hanahan. It employs about 4,500 military and civilian workers in the Charleston area.

The purpose of the name change is to make the organization's purpose clearer as it attempts to do more business with private tech firms as well as other branches of the military.

SPAWAR is an innovation arm for the Navy that acquires and adapts communications devices and other technologies for U.S. defense forces.

Rear Adm. Christian Becker announced the name change Wednesday in San Diego.

"The advantage information warfare brings to the fight is at the core of our Navy's ability to compete and win today and in the coming decades," Becker said in a written statement. "Recognizing our systems centers as Naval Information Warfare Centers reaffirms our commitment to accelerate the development and delivery of advanced warfighting capabilities to the fleet."

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No operational or mission changes are planned as a result of the new name.

In Charleston, SPAWAR has been trying to reach out to companies it hasn't typically worked with in the past. It announced about a year ago that it put up about $100 million to target businesses that specialize in areas such as cyberwarfare, cloud computing and data analysis. 

Historically, SPAWAR has been a major driver of defense and technology industries in the Charleston region.

The Weapons Station site was commissioned under the SPAWAR Atlantic name in 2008, but its origins can be traced to the 1960s, with the Navy's establishment of an electronics command center in Charleston.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.