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NEWS | Oct. 25, 2023

NUWC Division Newport employees receive Warfare Center Awards for exceptional performance

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Fifty Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport employees and two NUWC/Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Headquarters employees received Warfare Center Awards to recognize exceptional achievements made in calendar year 2022 during a ceremony held on Oct. 3.

All award winners were acknowledged by Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings and acting Technical Director Rebecca Chhim.

Across two NUWC commands and eight Naval Surface Warfare Centers (NSWC), 915 members of the workforce were nominated for an award and 327 were selected as winners in six categories including talent management, information security, innovation, collaboration, knowledge sharing and technical support services.

The nominations were reviewed, rated and ranked by a three-person panel of technical directors from NSWC Corona Division, NSWC Dahlgren Division and NSWC Philadelphia Division.

“This is an impressive feat because the awards aren’t just for NUWC, this goes across all of the warfare centers to recognize some folks on the outstanding work they’ve done,” Hennings said.

“Every day it is just inspiring what everybody does,” Chhim said. “Thank you for your dedication and your passion for the mission, thank you for leading by example for all our other teammates, and thank you for your exceptional performance.”

Jeffrey Prater, Division Newport’s director of the Corporate Communications Division, served as the master of ceremonies.

“These ceremonies remind me of the incredible talent that we have in our workforce,” Prater said. “The awards reflect the depth and the breadth of the outstanding work done every day. This makes our nation and our warfighters safer and better prepared.”

Information Security Award

The winner of the Information Security Award was the Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical Systems (SWFTS) Cybersecurity Engineering Team, which includes Justin Aquilante, Christopher Crogan, David Mello, Ian Russell Kendrick Spencer and Meaghan O’Rourke, all from the Undersea Warfare (USW) Combat Systems Department, and Christopher Morcom of the USW Electromagnetic Systems Department.

The team was recognized for successfully re-engineering the submarine cyber requirements baseline to provide an elegant and technically executable foundation for system design, with a focus on breaking the Cyber Kill Chain and implementation of systems that operate in a cyber-adverse environment.

“In cybersecurity it can sometimes feel like a constant battle to get forward-traction,” O’Rourke said.

“The team didn’t just do a simple rewrite of the SWFTS Cybersecurity Baseline Requirements Document (BRD), it transformed the contents and messaging behind the document. Strong systems engineering is based in solid requirements and we hope that this new BRD serves as a basis to ensure that cybersecurity is fully integrated into the systems engineering processes for SWFTS in the future.”

Innovation Award

Winning an Innovation Award was the Unmanned Aerial Systems Project 4 Team from the USW Combat Systems Department. Team members include James Ashley, Kathryn Berube, Robert Bones, Christopher Gagner, Peter Harrigan, James Houston, Samuel Lademan, Timothy Nolan, Patrick Ryll, Daniel Savaria, Caitlin Tracht and Alexis Varada.

The team was recognized for their creativity and excellence in the development of a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that culminated in a successful open ocean fully autonomous flights. “Their innovative re-design of the UAV has resulted in major cost savings and its ever-improving autonomous capabilities have opened up substantial opportunities for the future of the fleet,” the award states.

“Our team believes deeply in what bringing this capability to the Navy will provide,” Berube, head of the Combat Systems Requirements and Analysis Branch, said. “We’ve spent the past year overcoming numerous technological hurdles to get to where we are today. Having successfully flown dozens of autonomous flights demonstrates the value of our hard work and shows how applying innovative technologies to existing systems can move the needle and improve capabilities we can provide to the fleet.”

Harrigan served as the deputy project officer and lead for the P4 project. Nolan, unmanned systems chief engineer, and was instrumental in developing a new modular architecture and the software engineering efforts.

“We’ve designed, tested, and improved the unmanned aerial system for the past two years,” Berube said. “Pete Harrigan and I stood up this team more formally in May 2022 to focus on the architecture, systems engineering, and test planning of the system. As a branch head, I was able to pull together the team members needed to propel the project forward.”

John C. Mickey Award for Collaboration

Three teams from NUWC Division Newport earned the John C. Mickey Award for Collaboration – the Naval Range Enterprise Team, the USW Decision Support System Team, and the UxS Battery Initiative Team.

The Naval Range Enterprise Team, from the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department, is comprised of Anthony Bruno, David Grant, John “Tod” Michaelis, Sean Perry and Eric Spigel, department head, was recognized for bringing together test and training range stakeholders across Divisions Carderock, Corona, Crane, Dahlgren, Keyport and Newport to align investments, resulting in productivity improvements, savings and cost avoidances.

“One of the things I enjoy about the Navy Range Enterprise Project is being able to collaborate with folks across multiple warfare centers and share ideas and process improvements that we can all benefit from,” Perry said.

The USW Decision Support System Team from the USW Combat Systems Department was recognized for its collaboration with NSWC Carderock Division and NUWC Division Keyport, which resulted in the networked software design and coding tools to support the sharing of water space plans, which can then generate the operational schedule messages for transmit to U.S. Navy subs.

The team includes M Hadi Bah Jr., Francis Bangura, Frederick Burkley, Nathan Brinker, John “Jack” Carpenter, Margaret Duckett, Zachary McGrath, Caitlyn O’Shaughnessy, Steven Roodbeen and Samuel Spillane.

“Undersea warfare is a team sport and the USW Decision Support System Program of Record team that spans Newport, Carderock and Keyport mirrors that by leveraging each warfare center’s strength in undersea warfare,” Brinker said. “The team has leverage expertise in acoustics, surface combat system, and submarine combats systems to enable new advanced capability supporting theater undersea warfare C2 challenges.”

Brinker also once worked with John Mickey, for whom the award is named.

“I remember working with John Mickey and I remember him as a great communicator and collaborator in our community,” Brinker said. “It is great honor for our team to receive this award.”

The UxS Battery Initiative Team, comprised of employees from the USW Platforms and Payload Integration Department and the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department, which collaborated with NSWC Carderock, Crane and Indian Head Divisions, was honored for working with industry partners and government labs to develop critical technology. The team led the design, testing, and safe integration of lithium-based, Passive Propagation Resistant batteries on board submarine platforms.

Team members include Dr. Scott Higgins, Dr. John Izzo, Michael Jones, Klaudia Linek, Meghan Linskey, Jacob Moyar, Zachary Murtishi, Dr. Charles Patrissi, Nathan Wiebe, and Kirsten Yapp, all from the USW Platforms and Payload Integration Department; and Sakoun Phommavongsa and Anand Verma, of the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department.

“We have a great team here at NUWC and across the other organizations we are closely engaged with,” Izzo said. “The team has fostered a truly collaborative environment, which is allowing them to forge the path to deliver lithium-ion batteries for undersea applications.”

Technical Support Services Award

A Technical Support Services Award was given to the Surface Ship Undersea Warfare Production Test Team from the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, comprised of Jeffrey Kobza II, Benjamin Lodge and David Markt, for developing a new testing process for AN/SQQ-89 production systems.

“Their efforts improved the model, based on historical failure rates, resulting in a net cost avoidance of approximately $110,000 per fiscal year, while still ensuring technical maturity of systems being delivered to the fleet,” the award states.

As team lead, Lodge provided program management expertise to ensure the team’s solution was robust, actionable and aligned with the sponsor’s vision.

Kobza served as the Production Inspection Test/Production Reliability Acceptance Test lead and used his subject matter expertise to analyze the legacy test model to identify areas of redundancy.

“Balancing risk and cost-savings, he determined the required duration of test and necessary government staffing,” the award states.

As the failure analysis lead and a member of the Production Acceptance Team, Markt analyzed historic failure information to quantify the risk associated with reduced test duration to balance cost-savings while ensuring procurement of combat-ready systems.

“The team is proud to have successfully implemented the new production testing model,” Markt said.

“Our mission is to continue delivering combat-ready systems to the fleet as efficiently as possible, while optimizing cost-savings. Being recognized for our work confirms that the team’s efforts have a meaningful impact to the program and the fleet.”

Innovation Award

Another Innovation Award winner was the Technical Acquisition Team from NSWC Port Hueneme's Contracts Department, which includes Sofia Sinclair from NUWC Division Newport’s Policy and Self-Assessment Branch and Denise Abraham from the Contract Policy Office at NUWC/NSWC Warfare Centers.

Sinclair and Abraham were recognized for automating the Service Requirements Review Board (SRRB) data call process and the development of the Portfolio Action Plan Dashboards. “Their efforts reduced the administrative burden, standardized acquisition portfolio management, and strengthened informed decision-making for the 10 warfare centers divisions,” the award states.

“Streamlining the SRRB data call was a team effort and I am grateful to be recognized alongside Michael McLachlan of NSWC Port Hueneme and Denise Abraham,” Sinclair said. “Our goal was to save time and effort across the warfare centers, and put together a live data dashboard that goes above and beyond a routine snapshot of data. The resulting product is an interactive, actionable dashboard that can be used to understand the health of our contracts portfolio and support data driven decision-making. I’m proud of this effort and I’m proud of this team.”

Knowledge Sharing Award

The Knowledge Sharing Award was presented to Sally Sutherland from the NUWC/NSWC Warfare Centers Headquarters for creating the Warfare Centers Knowledge Forum.

“Through this site, Sutherland promoted ‘One Team: United in Learning,’ sharing the warfare centers' technical expertise, knowledge, and professional development opportunities across the Naval Research and Development Enterprise,” the award states. 

“When I started working for the Warfare Centers Headquarters, Dr. Brett Seidle was encouraging the ‘One Team’ theme,” Sutherland said. “There is so much great work and information at all the divisions, the Warfare Centers Knowledge Forum seemed like a good way to let people know what is happening and how to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Sutherland who works in the Office of Undersea Technology, which falls under Chief Technology Officer Dr. Vittorio “Vic” Ricci, is also the director for the Naval Engineering Education Consortium program.

A video highlighting the award winners is posted here: DVIDS - Video - NUWC Division Newport and Headquarters employees honored at 2023 Warfare Center Awards ceremony (

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- and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.