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NEWS | March 7, 2024

Two NUWC Division Newport employees receive DON Meritorious Civilian Service Award

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Two Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport employees recently earned the Department of the Navy (DON) Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the third highest honorary civilian award bestowed by the U.S. Navy. John “Jack” W. Hughes, command diving officer in the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department, and Michael Gozzo, a submarine communications engineer in the Undersea Warfare Electromagnetic Systems Department, received their awards from Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings during a ceremony held on Feb. 7.

Hughes was recognized for his outstanding achievements from September 2018 to September 2023 as the technical program manager for the Engineering and Diving Support Unit (EDSU) and command diving officer.

“Throughout his 32-year Navy career, Hughes has demonstrated exemplary leadership and technical aptitude in all his endeavors,” the award states. 

Over the past five years, under Hughes’ leadership, the EDSU conducted 179 dives on 28 different boats and 659 dives in support of other Navy projects. Hughes has created a successful program that deploys this highly technical team across the globe to deliver complex engineering solutions and support, the award states. “Whether conducting essential repairs on submarine towed array handling systems, validating new technologies, or supporting the Naval Special Warfare community, EDSU excels under Hughes’ guidance.” 

A trusted advisor to senior leadership for nearly two decades, Hughes manages the EDSU and its diverse mission sets with skill and balance. “With an eye to the future, he is dedicated to developing the Navy’s next generation of divers and leaders,” the award states. 

Gozzo was recognized for his achievements as the lead engineer for the Low Band Universal Communications System (LBUS) at Division Newport from September 2021 to September 2023.

“Over the past two years at Division Newport, Gozzo has built a reputation as an exceptional technical leader and subject matter expert in the LBUCS Shore Transmit System configuration management, system modernization and the LBUCS Receive prototype development,” the award states. 

With more than 35 years of Navy experience, Gozzo took on the challenge of rallying a geographically dispersed team and tackled the technical challenges that the LBUCS system presented with outstanding results. In a short period of time, he successfully turned around a program that was in danger of failing and made it into a model program for Undersea Communications and Integration Program Office (PMW 770).

As the lead engineer, Gozzo led a team of more than 75 people located at more than 20 sites throughout the globe and brought extraordinary engineering expertise and discipline to the team, the award states. In less than three months into his tenure, he rallied all of the cross-functional team members around one common goal and drove them to execute the first-ever software update for LBUCS Transmit, while also addressing requests from various stakeholders up to the four-star level of U.S. Navy leadership.  

“He restored confidence from the fleet thanks to his consistent, honest and effective communication,” the award states. 

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.