Mr. Ornellas currently serves as Pearl Harbor’s Nuclear Engineering and Planning Manager in a shipyard that employs 6,600 highly skilled personnel who service the Navy’s Pacific Fleet of nuclear-powered submarines and conventionally powered surface ships. As the Senior Civilian of the Shipyard, he reports directly to Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC. He is responsible for properly controlling radioactive work on nuclear propulsion plants—a complex technology where exacting standards are always required. He is the recognized authority responsible for assuring that all aspects of reactor plant maintenance, testing, and operations, are accomplished safely and in accordance with approved requirements and procedures. He directly interfaces with U.S. Navy flag officers and senior government executives in the execution of his responsibilities. He frequently teams with nuclear engineers, radiological controls technicians, and production mechanics in the planning and execution of submarine nuclear maintenance work in a manner that always protects—the sailors, shipyard workers, the public who resides around the shipyard, and Hawaii’s pristine environment. He also provides training, qualifications, and continuing education to over 1,000 highly skilled nuclear engineers, nuclear production mechanics, sailors, emergency response personnel, and foreign visitors supporting the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.
John W. Ornellas was born and raised in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. He graduated from Mililani High School in 1984 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Hawaii in 1988. After working a year in the private sector, Mr. Ornellas joined the shipyard in 1989 as a nuclear engineer beginning his career supporting our nation’s defense and continuing its extraordinary legacy of providing combat-ready warships to the fleet. In his 32-year career at the shipyard, Mr. Ornellas developed extensive knowledge and expertise to maintain, repair, and modernize nuclear submarines and held several leadership positions. In these positions, he demonstrated the ability to lead diverse organizations, maximize team performance, and continuously improve to overcome difficult challenges through technical rigor and team collaboration while emphasizing learning with strong leadership. Mr. Ornellas has built long-lasting relationships with leaders throughout the six public and private shipyards, with senior Navy leadership, and critical stakeholders in the State of Hawaii and the local community through hard work and interpersonal practice skills.
Mr. Ornellas was awarded the Department of the Navy Civilian Meritorious Service Medal in 2014 for leadership and contributions to improving shipyard performance. Mr. Ornellas strives for excellence and continuous improvement. As a leader, it is his proven ability to build diverse groups and lead them to achieve challenging goals that improve the shipyard’s performance. He has always recognized the importance of ship maintenance to provide warfighting capability to the nation. His leadership has significantly contributed to providing innovative maintenance solutions and warfighting capability to the fleet and equipped our ships and submarines to deploy forward and win in day-to-day competition, in crisis, and in conflict.