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SSTM Profile John Hutton

By Susan H. Lawson | NSWC PCD | Feb. 20, 2019


Senior Scientific Technical Manager (SSTM) Profile


Senior Scientific Technical Managers (SSTMs) provide a continuity of technical leadership and oversight that is needed to ensure long-term stewardship of an organization's technical capabilities. SSTMs typically have significant research or development experience, and are recognized as renowned experts in their fields. Soundings will profile select SSTMs across the Warfare Centers.


John Hutton, Principal Technical Manager, Littoral

and Mine Warfare Systems at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD)



What was your career path prior to becoming an SSTM?

I began working at the NSWC PCD right out of college. My first assignment was supporting testing of a developmental airborne mine detection system. That experience led me to various mechanical engineering and systems engineering duties in support of a number of mine detection, neutralization, and marking systems developments in the Mine Warfare (MIW) and Expeditionary Departments. During Desert Storm/Desert Shield, I was part of the team that developed the Shallow Water Mine Countermeasures (SWMCM) Program to address critical Mine Countermeasures (MCM) capability gaps in support of Amphibious Operations. When the SWMCM efforts transitioned to the current Assault Breaching Systems (ABS) program, I served as the NSWC PCD program manager for the ABS System of Systems. These experiences led to branch head and division head roles within the MIW Systems Development Division before being selected as head of the Littoral and Mine Warfare Systems Department.   


What inspired you to pursue your particular field?

My father was a mechanical engineer here at NSWC PCD while I was young and I was in constant awe of his ability to repair complex equipment. He could disassemble almost anything, diagnose the problem, fix it, and have the broken item back up and running in no time. My desire to be a “Mr. Fix-It” like dad inspired me to study mechanical systems. Our workshop was essentially a small machine shop and I spent many hours there getting hands-on experience and developing a love of engineering.


I’ve worked in several mission areas here at the lab, but I’ve always gravitated towards MIW. The importance of the mission and the challenges that MCM presents are appealing to those of us with problem-solving personalities. The various sensor technologies and platforms that are involved: communication and control networks, data fusion, and tactics and analysis, are all required to work in concert. When mixed with an unforgiving environment, this makes mine hunting and mine neutralization an extremely complex and challenging operation.         


How does your work impact the Navy's mission?

The MIW mission is critical to the Navy's mission of conducting prompt and sustained combat operations at sea. Our MCM and mine systems are key enablers to maintaining maritime superiority and expanding the advantage. MIW systems directly support the Navy’s ability to control sea lines of communication, project power, and ensure access for the Fleet.


What's the most promising new development you're working on in your field (not classified!)?

Within the department, we’re pushing hard to develop and field the MCM Mission Package (MP) for the Littoral Combat Ship. The MCM MP will revolutionize the way the Navy conducts MCM, moving towards future capabilities and incorporating a variety of unmanned systems working together to significantly reduce the time required to complete MCM operations.


What do you like to do when you're not working?

I love to play golf and attempt to get in as many rounds at as many courses as feasible. I'm a big sports fan and watch a lot of sports. I love the outdoors, too, so I enjoy the fantastic weather here as much as I can.