NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. —
Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) Nuclear Regional Maintenance Department (NRMD) sadly lost the patriarch of its close-knit family this spring with the passing of Ollie Smith. With Smith’s hardhat encased in a shadow box sitting in his former office, Al Roney humbly accepted the position of NRMD Director in October.
“It took me about a month before I could sit in his chair,” said Roney. “He was loved by the NRMD family. Having worked with him for six years, I think is helping the workforce to accept me as their new director.”
Roney hails from Louisville, Ky. Upon graduating high school, he decide to continue his family’s tradition and became the third generation to serve in the military. He started off as a machinist mate during his 26-year naval career and ended it as a Lieutenant Commander Limited Duty Officer with service on submarines and aircraft carriers. He credits the Navy for preparing him for the job of NRMD Director.
“NRMD is a dual workforce with both military members and civilians,” said Roney. “I have a unique perspective on understanding both the military and civilians side of the house.”
Upon retiring from the Navy in 2017, he did a short stint as a contractor for Naval Air Force Atlantic (AIRLANT). “It wasn’t long after where I took the opportunity presented to me to come to work for Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY).”
For three years, he served as the Lead Incident Commander responding to drills for emergencies at NNSY. He also became the Response Group Leader, ensuring all people involved with emergency response are trained and qualified at a federal level.
In July, Roney became a member of NRMD’s family as the Acting Director. This was not the first time that Roney had worked at NRMD. “I served two tours here while in uniform. My second tour, I was the NRMD Deputy Director.”
Roney stated that the biggest attribute that he brings to NRMD is his experience on the waterfront and understanding submarine squadrons, AIRLANT and the various repair activities.
Roney has the mindset for him and his team to continually be productive and keep moving forward. “I want to create an environment where people are successful in what I am asking them to do,” he said.
Roney’s goals are the same as NNSY’s mission, getting ships out to the Fleet on time and under costs. “I want to do right by the Fleet and my way to do that is taking care of the people,” said Roney.
Although Roney is trying to fill the shoes of Smith, he will continue to be reminded by looking at Smith’s hardhat, and knowing that without the people of NRMD, he wouldn’t be where he is at now.