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Carderock’s Columbia Propulsor Acquisition Team Earns Navy Excellence Award

By Todd A. Hurley, NSWCCD Public Affairs | Nov. 17, 2020

The 2020 Department of the Navy Acquisition Excellence Awards ceremony was held virtually on Nov. 5, 2020, with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division’s Columbia Propulsor Acquisition Team accepting the Field Acquisition Activity Award.

The Columbia-class submarine is the newest class of nuclear submarine and is being designed to replace the Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.

“The award is for the team that’s been working on the acquisition strategy for the Columbia-class Propulsor,” Devin Stewart said, Office Head, Advanced Propulsor Management Office. “It’s an effort that has gone on for two years.”

With careful precision, the Columbia Propulsor Acquisition Team was responsible for delivering the government funded equipment Columbia propulsor on time, within budget and ensuring the design met the stringent technical requirements, as well as making sure the propulsor was sufficiently mature.

To support this, the team performed small scale testing, water tunnel testing and Large Scale Vehicle testing. According to the award nomination package, the LSV testing was successful primarily due to the execution of the contract to manufacture the test hardware. 

Furthermore, they helped support a critical program milestones, specifically the effort to down-select the major portions of the propulsor. According to the award nomination package, this decision was the culmination of roughly 10 years of design, test and evaluation, and prototyping, along with approximately $400 million worth of work.

In order for the selected propulsor design to be properly measured in accordance with manufacturing readiness levels, the team oversaw the manufacturing process for several large-scale prototypes. This lead to all of the major portions of the Columbia Propulsor having a manufacturing demonstration before the actual manufacturing effort for all 12 of the Columbia Class Propulsors.

“While the award focuses on the Columbia team, it really spans all submarine propulsor work,” Stewart said.

The team also performed Submarine Propulsor Production Readiness Reviews, ensuring the Virginia propulsors are completed on schedule and the Columbia lead ship propulsor components will be delivered ahead of schedule.

In addition, they also were responsible for developing the Columbia Propulsor Program Acquisition Plan. Per the award nomination package, this plan “defined the acquisition strategy for the Columbia propulsor for the duration of the class construction effort, laying out the acquisition timeline linked to critical design completion and component delivery milestones.”

With their efforts, the NSWC Carderock Division Columbia Acquisition Team was responsible for the early delivery dates for critical components and reduced the costs – $6 million in fiscal year 2019 and up to $24 million throughout the entire span of the program.

The award-winning team consisted of a multidisciplinary group of nine members from the Carderock’s Advanced Management Office, the Business Office for the Department of Naval Architecture and Contracts.

“What really helped earn the award has been the close coordination between the different offices working on the project,” Stewart said. “Close collaboration with the technical teams has been key.”

Comprising the team are: Devin Stewart, Office Head, Advanced Propulsor Management Office, Yara Zidan, Propulsor Acquisition Manager; Matthew Marburger, Columbia Propulsor Project Manager; Christopher Hoerbelt, Columbia Composites Task Lead; Abeer Ameer, Branch Head, Team Lead Propulsor Acquisitions; Jonathan Mauro, Propulsor Contracts Officer; Patricia (Trish) Folts, Propulsor Contracts Specialist; Susan Kingsbury, Columbia Propulsor Deputy Project Manager; Bruce Baumgarten, Contract's Officer Representative and Michael Peduto, Contracts Officer.

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