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NEWS | Nov. 21, 2022

Executive director of NAVSEA’s attack submarines program tours NUWC Division Newport

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Lisa Radocha, executive director of the Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA)-affiliated Program Executive Office for Attack Submarines (PEO SSN), visited the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport, Nov.1 and 2 for laboratory tours and discussions.

“With so many ships in construction and in the fleet, the legacy your team is creating and the impact of the work they do is so important to the Navy and the nation,” Radocha said during the visit. “You have a pipeline of talent here and people come here because of the interesting work that you do.”

In her role as executive director and a member of the Senior Executive Service, Radocha oversees attack submarine platform development and acquisition. Division Newport plays an important role in this process as the warfare center provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

This full-spectrum support was on display during the tours and discussions, as a number of topics were addressed, including science and technology efforts; undersea warfare mission engineering and analysis; Virginia-class and Columbia-class programs; torpedoes; unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) technology; next generation (SSN-X) projects; and in- combat systems and cybersecurity.

A critical aspect of this process is the acquisition phase, which is why Radocha also met with Jay Melillo, director of the Customer Advocate Office, and a number of customer advocates.

“Customer advocates are the primary interface to a customer/sponsor program office, managing Division Newport’s business relationships.” Melillo said. “They communicate customer needs, strategic insight and concerns to the command and help to identify the right skills and assets needed to provide the best value, regardless of where the work may be performed.

Division Newport operates under the Navy Working Capital Fund (NWCF) model, which means it receives funds from multiple “customers" to execute tasking within its assigned mission. Those utilizing the NWCF model receive no directly appropriated funding and operate like a nonprofit business with a “customer-provider" relationship. Approximately 10.4% of Division Newport’s funding for fiscal year 2021 came from PEO SSN.

The customer advocate team provides resources to national enterprise executives to manage the key interfaces for Division Newport's customers. This includes handling work assignments and ensuring that Division Newport serves as a smart buyer, representing the interests of the Navy in its technical solutions.

“We say customer advocates are not only a ‘smart buyer’ but also the honest broker to the customer, by leading task negotiation with sponsors, while conducting staff and resource negotiation with line management,” Melillo said.

The team is directly responsible for ensuring that funding for assignments is accepted and assigned to the appropriate warfare center or internal product line for execution. It also is responsible for maintaining visibility into program management, financial management, control, program risk assessments, technical insight, task negotiation, program direction to technical program managers, progress/program reviews, workload forecasting, cross-site collaboration, and development, conduct and analysis of customer surveys.

Customer advocates work as liaisons in this process to ensure the relationships with Division Newport customers are strong and remain as such. They communicate the customer’s needs and requirements to technical project managers, who develop the task books which the customer advocate validates and provides to the customer for negotiation and acceptance.

“This is done by validating our task books — ensuring tasking is aligned to our warfare center technical capabilities; meeting with the customer advocates on a weekly basis to communicate warfare center information; and to discuss and resolve project execution to ensure we have consistent execution of tasking” Melillo said.

During her visit, Radocha also received an overview of Division Newport’s execution in PEO-SSN, and other new construction projects.

“She was very engaging with our presenters, as well as with our Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings,” Melillo said about the visit. “She displayed detailed knowledge of these large programs and the underlying work being performed at the project level.”

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.

Join our team! NUWC Division Newport, one of the 20 largest employers in Rhode Island, employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics and other support experts who wish to be at the forefront of undersea research and development. Please connect with NUWC Division Newport Recruiting at this site- https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NUWC-Newport/Career-Opportunities/ and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.

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