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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2023

NUWC Division, Keyport’s MK-30 team excels with inclusive, team-centered approach

By Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport

The MK-30 Depot team at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport has cultivated a unique culture of excellence, pride, professionalism and mutual support among team members.

“I’ve been in a lot of shops at Keyport. I’ve never seen a shop like this one and what it’s become over the last seven, eight years,” said Jeff Freeland, deputy division head for the command’s Fleet Undersea Warfare Training Readiness and Undersea Surveillance Systems Division.

What it has become is a tight-knit, collaborative, inclusive community where individuals are empowered, valued for their strengths, and encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives toward a shared vision of excellence.

The transformation began with Freeland’s leadership of the MK-30 team several years ago and has continued under the current leadership of Pacific Northwest Target Maintenance and Engineering Branch Head Stacy Brandes.

“I was fortunate—I would say blessed—to come in here after an enormous amount of effort had been put into creating such a rock-solid foundation with this team,” said Brandes, who has been leading it since May.

Freeland praised Brandes’ leadership, “He really has pulled the whole team together in a way that I've never seen before. He believes in a family atmosphere. He believes that we're all a family at work.”

MK-30 operational site lead Josh Forshaw agrees that the team feels like family. “It's definitely nice coming in and working with a team that are like the next best thing to my friends—or my best friends,” he said. “Working with a bunch of friends for the day is a nice place to be. There are no personality conflicts anywhere that I can think of.”

The family feeling isn’t just about camaraderie; it’s reflected in a seamless integration where distinctions between roles become less important.

"If you were to spend a day here walking around, and you didn't already know who the engineering team was, you wouldn't realize [who they were]," said Brandes. “Everyone meshes so well. […] People are always reaching out across the board to help each other out.”

This harmonious cohesion extends to the Depot’s contract employees, many of whom perform the same tasks and pursue the same qualifications as their government counterparts. Cooper Bowen, op site engineer in charge for the Depot, said this significantly increases the team’s overall effectiveness.

The team also benefits from welcoming fresh perspectives from newcomers. Multiple team members emphasized their belief that outside perspectives improve the quality of their work by bringing unique insights and scrutiny. “It really helps us to be as close to perfect as a human can be,” said Electronics Technician Sean Pollock.

Freeland credits the team’s positive culture for its exceptional achievements over the past several years, including consistently high inspection ratings, reliability rates exceeding 80 percent and reaching into the low 90s, remarkably low staff turnover rates, and the successful implementation of tailored qualification and career development plans.