Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) Non-Nuclear Temporary Services (Code 990) Electrician David Stevens is a self-described “pipeventrician.”
That label captures all Stevens and his team in Code 990 are responsible for providing electrical, air, water, and ventilation services for many NNSY Shops, Ship’s Force, and contractors. In alignment with the One Team mindset at NNSY, Stevens’s job is all about teamwork. “We essentially make sure that everyone has what is necessary to complete the jobs they are working on-time and under budget,” he said. “That can be achieved by teamwork and by working as one.”
The Oshkosh, Wisconsin native, came to the shipyard in 2015 after spending more than 30 years in his hometown. With a degree in electro-mechanical tech, Stevens was working as a traveling electrician performing commercial installs across the country. “I did it for about three years but living on the road for six months at a time got old fast.” Stevens wanted to make a change and his uncle recommended he consider a career at NNSY. When he received his offer and start date, he quickly packed up and moved halfway across the country to Virginia.
Stevens quickly adjusted to life as a shipyard employee thanks to a team of important mentors who became his teammates providing valuable mentoring. Now, having completed three to four projects with his mentors-turned-teammates, he considers them close friends. Work Leader Christopher Blake was even a groomsman in Stevens’ wedding along with several other Code 990 NNSY Apprenticeship Program graduates.
Six years after starting his career at NNSY, Stevens now has valuable experience under his belt. He is currently assigned to the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Drydocking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA) project which undocked on-time last August. Stevens played an important role in ensuring other shops had the tools they needed to get the job done. “I could write a list that would go on for pages covering everything we (Code 990) have our hands in and assist with,” said Stevens.
The effort Stevens puts into his work can be measured in miles – literally. As the lead mechanic on the Bush when she was still in dry dock, he averaged around 20,000 steps and 30 flights of stairs per day. But despite the physical demands, Stevens stayed motivated by focusing on NNSY’s mission and teamwork.
Stevens’s dedication to his teammates has been noticed by everyone he works with, including his supervisor, Temporary Services Supervisor Matt Stephenson. “Mr. Stevens is a motivated self-starter and a hard worker, he is always willing to help his fellow teammates to complete an assigned task and help support production,” said Stephenson. “I have been his direct supervisor for several years and I have watched him develop and excel in his shipyard career. I am sure he will continue to strive here at NNSY and I am looking forward to being a part of it.”
With regards to the future, Stevens hopes to impart his knowledge onto the next generation of shipyarders, just like his teammates did for him when he started. When asked of his proudest career accomplishment, Stevens said it was watching the apprentices and helpers-to-workers he has helped train grow and become excellent mechanics, not just within the shipyard itself but at NNSY’s satellite locations as well.
Stevens took a leap of faith when he moved across the country to start his career at NNSY; however, he can safely say it paid off. Six years later, he finds himself excelling in a career he loves as an invaluable member of a diverse team. “I’ve learned so much from the diverse background of knowledge others have, not just knowledge about the job but stuff outside the yard too. I’ve made some lifelong friends that I would not have made if it wasn’t for the shipyard and I’m grateful for that,” he said.
One thing has stayed the same since his first day on the job, and that is his awe of the U.S. Navy’s warships. “I continue to be constantly amazed by the ships and places we get to work. I like to say that eight-year-old me would geek out if he could see me now.”