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Home : Media : News
NEWS | May 16, 2024

NSWC Crane Commanding Officer Leads by Empowering the Workforce

By Sarah K. Oh (ctr), NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

Figure 1: Captain Rex Boonyobhas was sworn in as NSWC Crane Commanding Officer during a ceremony at NSWC Crane on August 16, 2023.“People are the most important part of the U.S. Navy and at NSWC Crane,” said Captain Rex Boonyobhas, the Commanding Officer (CO) at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane). “We must always strive to take care of our people and continue to develop great relationships within our command and with our external partners.”

CAPT Boonyobhas assumed command at NSWC Crane in 2023. He said his role leading NSWC Crane is centered around the workforce.

“My role as the CO at NSWC Crane will continue to support the development of our personnel to meet the current and future needs of the Navy and the nation. I really think that by enabling our personnel to be innovative and lead is the key for our command to be successful.”

Figure 2: CAPT Boonyobhas pictured (top) with his brother and sister around 1980.CAPT Boonyobhas was inspired by service in high school, where he joined the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (NJROTC).

“I participated in NJROTC for my freshman and sophomore years. Based on other pressing priorities, I started working at a convenient store, 7-11, after school to help support my family and myself. After working at 7-11, I went to work for Woodward & Lothrop, a department store, for a couple of years. Then I worked at Holy Cross Hospital as a phlebotomist.”

Holy Cross Hospital is the same place he was born, and he worked there for more than five years prior to his career in the U.S. Navy.

“Through lots of dedication, resiliency, and hard work, I was able complete my graduate studies at University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) with a master’s in chemical engineering. I joined the Navy shortly after graduating from Ole Miss in May 1999. I enrolled in the Naval Nuclear Power Program that consists of six months intensive academic training on Nuclear Power followed by six months on-hand experience of Nuclear Prototype Operations.”

He said one of the unique challenges he has had to manage since starting and leading in the Navy is professional and personal balance.

Figure 3: CAPT Boonyobhas and his wife pictured in Yosemite National Park in 2013.“During my first 12 years of being in the Navy, I was a submarine officer and time with family and friends away from work was very limited. During the early days of my naval career, I had to learn how to spend time efficiently and effectively with my family and friends. But the same can be said today, as the CO of NSWC Crane, many events happen daily that I must determine how to prioritize appropriately. What I’ve really learned to appreciate as I become more senior in the Navy is that you really have to trust your personnel and allow them to perform their duties with supervision as needed.”

CAPT Boonyobhas said he enjoys connecting with his heritage and traditions for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month.

“One of my favorite traditions is cooking during the AAPI Heritage Month. My wife and I usually team up to cook various Thai dishes, including Papaya Salad, Pad Thai or stir-fried rice noodles, sticky rice with grilled chicken, and various curries. Being a second generation Asian in the U.S. initially meant that I had to adapt and try to blend into the surrounding culture. Now that we are starting to embrace the diversity of various cultures, I’m starting to learn a little bit more about the large variety of cultures in Thailand.”

He said there are resources available to employees, including AAPI resource groups, other Employee Resource Groups, Special Emphasis Groups, the Department of the Navy Civilian Employee Assistance Program (DONCEAP).

“Sometimes, starting a new career in a new location can be very intimidating and challenging. Don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance if needed. Especially if you are far away from family. This advice goes to not just AAPI but all personnel that work here at NSWC Crane.”

CAPT Boonyobhas has served several sea tours aboard the USS ALEXANDRIA (SSN 757) and the USS ALABAMA (SSBN 731) (BLUE). Joining the Engineering Duty Officer community led CAPT Boonyobhas to NSWC Crane.

“After serving 12 years as a Submarine Officer, I decided to explore something new. The Engineering Duty Officer community offers a wide range of experiences from acquisition to research and development to maintaining, modernizing, and eventually decommissioning ships and systems.”

He is proud to serve in the United States Navy.

“I am proud of being able to serve in the Navy for the last 25 years and represent our personnel at NSWC Crane.  When I go onboard a ship or step onto the Quarterdeck of a build, the watch will announce, ‘Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane Division arriving!’ and I represent all the outstanding personnel that have worked, are working and will work here at NSWC Crane. I am most proud of being part of NSWC Crane and having the honor to be the CO.”

He said he learns something new every day working at NSWC Crane.

“I have been given the opportunity to meet many great leaders. It is my privilege to see our personnel every day and learn from each one of them. Whether they have been at NSWC Crane for over 55 years or just on-boarding, there is always something new that I learn from our personnel. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to support the STEM program and the various community outreach events such as parades, economic development meetings, and other key events.”

He said serving as CO of NSWC Crane is special to him.

CAPT Boonyobhas, the Commanding Officer at NSWC Crane, and Dr. Angela Lewis, the NSWC Crane Technical Director, meet with students participating in the Team Crane Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Program Science Fair in April 2024.“I really enjoy being able to work and interact with personnel here at NSWC Crane. When I got selected to be the CO of NSWC Crane, one of my personnel at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard’s battery shop asked me to come talk to him about NSWC Crane. He was very excited and proud of having worked with NSWC Crane. NSWC Crane is vital to the success of the Navy, the Department of Defense, and the nation. With our innovative solutions from many of our outstanding and intelligent team members, we strive every day to bring the very best to work and the best to the warfighter on the ships and on the front lines.”

Throughout his career, there have been many challenges he has overcome.Figure 5: CAPT Boonyobhas and his wife, Nan at the Submarine Ball in Bangor, WA in 2009.

“The key is to be resilient and adapt as necessary. When you need help don’t be afraid to ask for help, there’s always people around you that are looking out for you and trying to make sure that you succeed. I have had many mentors and coaches that helped me to get to this point in my career. Of course, my number one fan is my wife. She’s always there for me to assist and support me for over 30 years now.”

About NSWC Crane | NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electromagnetic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

Join Our Team! NAVSEA employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce - from students and entry level employees to experienced professionals and individuals with disabilities. We support today's sophisticated Navy and Marine Corps ships, aircraft, weapon systems and computer systems. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, IT and cyber specialists, as well as trade and other support professionals to ensure the U.S. Navy can protect and defend America. Please contact NSWC Crane Human Resources at