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Former Navy Nuke Navigates His Way to Carderock

By Edvin Hernandez, NSWCCD public affairs | March 17, 2020

A good sense of humor and a distinctive laugh helps Roy Sims, a civil engineer in the Ships Structures Branch at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division, put the “fun” in the fundamentals of structural design and analysis.

Sims began his career with the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school in Mesa, Arizona. He enlisted as a Sailor, serving for six years as a nuclear machinist mate onboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). Between 2006 and 2010, Sims was deployed to the Middle East on three separate occasions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After completing his active duty service, he pursued a bachelor’s degree using his GI Bill and attended Arizona State University in 2010.

Entering as a civil engineering major with a focus on structures, Sims was curious to learn about the engineering principles governing the design of large structures, particularly in naval ships.

“I wanted to be a structural engineer because of the time I spent on the boat – seeing how it was built from the inside and how it behaved in rough seas was fascinating,” he said. “Imagining how a structure like that – a building that floats – is designed peaked my curiosity.”  

While in college, Sims worked as an intern with the Department of Energy (DoE). He assisted dam management projects and accrued valuable experience in structural and hydroelectric engineering.  

After graduating Arizona State University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Sims received an offer to work at Norfolk Naval Ship Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, as a naval architect. He performed foundation design for overhauls of existing ships, primarily focusing on aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships. The work involved planning, drafting, structural analysis and ship checks, which allowed him to travel around the world.   

Sims had the opportunity to visit Carderock for a surface ship structural design seminar in 2016 and was impressed with the command.

“I was blown away by this place,” he said. “The caliber of the people I interacted with at Carderock was amazing.  They were professional, intelligent and thoughtful. I remember thinking ‘I want to be a part of this; I want to work with these guys.”

While attaining his master’s degree in structural engineering at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, Sims noticed a Carderock recruitment event at his school. He attended the event to explore job opportunities with the command and learn about the departments that were hiring. Once his application was submitted and reviewed, he was invited to visit Carderock for an interview. Sims accepted an engineering position with the Ships Structures Branch and joined the command in April 2019.

“The people here are a beacon for naval engineering – professionalism, integrity and competence are the traits I see in my co-workers,” he said. “I feel like Carderock brings in the best, and I’m humbled to be a part of it.”  

At Carderock, Sims is currently building a full-ship, finite-element model of the USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201) for the Military Sealift Command (MSC). He believes the model he and his co-workers are developing will impress MSC and open a new source of work for Carderock.

“Planning how this finite-element model would be built was exciting,” Sims said. “I’m pouring all of my energy into the T-AO 201 model which is scheduled for delivery in April. The model’s ability to be rapidly manipulated with regard to wastage evaluation of critical structure is impressive, it can be quickly altered to reflect another in-class ship where corrosion occurs at a different location.”

Sims said one of his biggest accomplishments was assisting with a scaled segmented model test that required the design of a backspline beam. The model, which is set to be used in Carderock’s David Taylor Model Basin and Maneuvering and Seakeeping Basin, is expected to mimic the behavior of a full-scale ship at sea.