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NEWS | April 14, 2021

Shipyard Spotlight: John Karr

By Allison Conti, Public Affairs Specialist Norfolk Naval Shipyard

With more than 32 years of experience, Nuclear Job Planning Leader (NJPL) John Karr of Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) Assistant Nuclear Engineering and Planning Manager Division (Code 2301) has a wealth of knowledge. Lucky for his colleagues in Code 2301 and the shipyard at large, Karr is happy to share the wealth.

A native of Roanoke, Virginia, Karr began his career at NNSY in 1988 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. “They interviewed on campus and invited me up to visit the site. It sounded interesting and I have been here ever since,” said Karr.

As a JPL, Karr ensures that NNSY is able to meet its mission and that incoming projects are set up to be successful. The NJPL assists the Nuclear Project Engineering and Planning Manager (NPEPM) with planning the day-to-day execution of a ship availability. “Our main focus is to deliver the required engineering planning products and other deliverables as required by our corporate best practices guidance,” said Karr. “In essence, we are delivering planning products in a timely manner to set the project up for success.” He added that during the execution of a project, he and other NJPLs play an active role in supporting the work. Karr ensures that new work is screened and added to the schedule, if accepted.

Karr said he was proud of the work he completed for the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA) and its several job summaries and task group instructions (TGIs). Through a lot of hard work, Karr and his team were able to get all of the planning products delivered on-time to support starting the availability. “While I moved on from the Bush project in June 2019, I would like to think my efforts were an important part of its success as the availability comes near the end,” said Karr.

Rachel Yarasavich, a fellow NJPL and mentee of Karr’s, said, “John is a shining example of someone who demonstrates NNSY’s values every day. He has been more than willing to help me understand concepts and questions regarding the Naval Nuclear Programs and other topics related to my job duties. Not only is he a patient and great teacher, he is one of the most dependable and dedicated people that I have ever met at America’s Shipyard.”

Having spent his entire career at NNSY, Karr is deeply committed to the shipyard’s mission and community. Both Yarasavich and Karr’s supervisor, Code 2310.2 Branch Head and Supervisory Nuclear Engineer Chris Frarey remarked on Karr’s dedication to America’s Shipyard. Frarey said, “John is always seeking opportunities to support and improve Norfolk Naval Shipyard.  He is a member of several shipyard organizations and recently John has proven to be a strong mentor to new employees within our organization.  I know that any assignment assigned to John will be completed on time with first time quality.  John truly exemplifies One Mission – One Team!”

One Mission – One Team, is a motto that Karr holds close to his heart and the words help motivate him in the work he does within his daily job and the NNSY community.  Karr said, “NNSY will only have success if every person is having success. If you look at how complex the work we do is, it is easy to think that one person does not make a difference, but each individual’s success, when added to everyone else’s successes will lead to shipyard success.”

Having years of experience, Karr regularly makes himself available to guide other NJPLs and engineers with less experience just as he said others have mentored him. He humbly shares errors he has previously made and lessons he has learned in the hope that others can learn from him. Karr said, “You’re not always going to be successful – mistakes happen, but it is important to learn from our hiccups and pass those lessons on to other people.”

Karr not only has technical knowledge and lessons to share but broader career advice that can be applied to any NNSY employee. “Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I was for a lot of my career, but I discovered that if you have determination and resiliency, any new job can be mastered. You might not always completely succeed at first, but you will learn from your mistakes and keep improving,” said Karr. “It is never too late to redefine yourself, to broaden your horizon, to accept more challenges. It will be personally rewarding and it will benefit the whole NNSY team.”