VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Bobby Starks was honored in a retirement ceremony held at Combat Direction Systems Activity (CDSA) Dam Neck after 34 years of civil service, May 18.
Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Technical Director John Fiore presented Starks – who began his Navy career as a submariner – with the Navy Superior Civilian Service Medal at the event.
Starks provided senior leadership as the Acting Department Head of NSWC Dahlgren Division’s Readiness and Training Systems Department at CDSA. Specifically, he led the department’s technical excellence in executing research, development, test and evaluation, systems engineering, integration and delivery of surface warfare combat systems, integrated training systems, and cybersecurity readiness systems, including system safety engineering.
“Bobby Starks is a great teammate and helped lead CDSA to over 5,000 Fleet engagements last year,” said CDSA Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Andrew Hoffman.
Fiore added, “Bobby has been our point man and I couldn’t ask for a better partner in helping CDSA continue its work as an in-service organization and expanding our Research and Development work.”
In addition to enlisting as a submariner in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1981, he attended college at the University of Hawaii. Eventually, Starks returned to his native town of Akron, Ohio where he graduated from the University of Akron with a B.S in Electrical Engineering in 1990.
Some of his career highlights included serving as the Office of Naval Research science advisor to Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces from July 2013 to February 2015 and Commander, Submarine Forces from July 2011 to July 2013. As science advisor, he enhanced warfighters’ operational effectiveness through applications of science and technology and initiated demonstration, experimentation and projects that accelerate the transition of warfare technology to the Fleet.
Starks also served on the immediate staff of Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command as deputy director for SEA00G, working as the scientific and technical intelligence liaison officer. In this senior level position, he worked with the intelligence community, acquiring Intelligence for NAVSEA headquarters, affiliated program executive offices, and engineering directorates supporting acquisition, research, development, test and evaluation of ships, submarines, littorals and integrated warfare systems.
Between September 1998 and July 2009, Starks served as lead systems integration and test engineer for the Submarine Systems Engineering Branch, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Atlantic. He was responsible for daily oversight and execution of the Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine, USS Virginia (SSN 774) C4I and Weapon Systems Installation, Test and Certification Program providing system of systems engineering during ship’s new construction and platform delivery.
Over the course of 30 plus years, Starks impacted systems engineering efforts supporting all aspects of acquisition and life cycle maintenance of Navy platforms and combat systems. He worked at the Naval Sea Combat Systems Engineering Station in Norfolk, Va., starting January 1991 supporting Los Angeles (SSN 688I) class submarine new construction and delivery of the USS Albany (SSN-753) through the last Los Angeles-class submarine – USS Cheyenne (SSN-773). Starks also supported the Fleet Technical Support Center Atlantic, leading the first-time combat control, sonar, and weapon system technology Rapid Cots Insertion programs.
In his retirement ceremony, Starks said, “Working for the Navy as a civilian has been awesome. If you are willing to move out of your comfort zone, the opportunities are unlimited. No matter what you are doing, act like you own it. We do our work for the Sailors who are in harm’s way.”
Starks’ citation reads: “The Department of the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award is granted to Mr. Bobby C. Starks in recognition of his numerous contributions to Navy organizations and programs through his remarkable management abilities, engineering savvy, innovative thinking, and outstanding leadership skills. For more than 30 years, Mr. Starks has provided masterful systems engineering service supporting all aspects of acquisition and life cycle sustainment engineering for a myriad of naval, joint, and coalition platforms and combat systems. Mr. Starks is a recognized strategic and multidisciplinary leader with in depth naval technical and operational experience, and a demonstrated ability to coordinate and integrate complex efforts across organizational boundaries to achieve mission success. Mr. Starks’ persistent willingness and capacity to successfully lead organizations, execute technical programs, and implement innovative initiatives has been of strategic value to Dahlgren Division, the Warfare Centers, the Naval Sea Systems Command, and the United States Navy.”