NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. –
On March 2, 1990, The Hunt for Red October, a movie about a Russian submarine defecting to the United States, was released to the silver screen. It was directed by John McTiernan and starred Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery and James Earl Jones. A high school student from Johnstown, Pa., saw the movie and it was all he needed to help him decide what he wanted to do after high school.
“That movie got me fired up and I knew right then I wanted to be a Sailor on submarines,” said Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) newest Strategic Planning and Business Officer (Code 1200) Capt. (sel) Lawrence Brandon. “Three years later I became a nuclear electrician’s mate for submarines.”
After four years of submarine duty, at the recommendation of many officers including his commanding officer at the time, he applied and was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. After graduating in 2001, he was stationed onboard the USS Newport News (SSN 750).
“It wasn’t long after reporting onboard the Newport News that we came into the shipyard. It was during this yard period that I learned what an Engineer Duty Officer (EDO) did,” said Brandon.
He decided it was time for a career change. He became an EDO and graduated from the Navy Post Graduate School in 2009 and proceeded to his next duty station, Naval Information Warfare Command.
“I conducted a lot of command control, computers, information type stuff,” said Brandon. “A fair amount of the installs were at NNSY. I fell in love being part of an Alteration Installation Team (AIT) at NNSY and requested to be stationed at the shipyard for my next duty station.”
Brandon spent time as the deputy project superintendent for both the USS Maryland (SSBN 738) and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) before going to USS George Washington (CVN 73) as its Chief of Engineer (CHENG).
“I arrived there a week before Washington began its Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) and this ended up being my best duty station ever because I had the opportunity to mentor, mold and shape 1,800 Sailors,” he said.
Brandon’s next move took him to Arlington, Va where he was stationed at the Pentagon on the Chief of Naval Operations’ (OPNAV) staff. He generated requirements for the shipyards, maintenance, ship operations requirements and ship support from a maritime perspective.
“I didn’t know it then, but each of my last tours prepared me to become the Strategic Planning and Business Officer,” said Brandon.
Brandon knows he has some challenges ahead like programing a budget that can be up to four years away. Even though contingencies are put in place, there are times when something might happen that would throw the programming off course.
“There are challenges everywhere you go, but it is those challenges that I base the goals I set for myself,” said Brandon. “My goal is to be financially disciplined and responsible to the shipyard and our stakeholders. I want to make sure we are programming, budgeting and executing in line with our plan.”
Brandon hopes that one day he can follow the steps of his mentors Rear Adm. Rick Berkey, Rear Adm. Mark Whitney, Rear Adm. Scott Brown and Capt. Dianna Wolfson by becoming a shipyard commander. “That is my personal goal and I have all intentions to reach that goal. Nothing would do me prouder than to serve the U.S. Navy in that capacity.”