NEWS | June 10, 2021

NUWC Division Newport employees win Dr. Delores Etter Top Scientists and Engineers Awards

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Dr. Simon Freeman and the Light-Weight Low-Cost Conformal Array (LWLCCA) team from Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s Sensors and Sonar Systems Department and Dr. David Tonn, Undersea Warfare Electromagnetic Systems Department, recently won 2021 Assistant Secretary of the Navy (ASN) Research, Development and Acquisition (RD&A) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers for the Year Awards.

NUWC Division Newport won the most awards out of 10 Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) warfare centers in this highly competitive, nationwide competition, which recognizes technical superiority, innovation, technical merit, operational impact and applicability to ASN RD&A priorities. 

Freeman, a resident of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, won in the Emergent Scientist Investigator category for his research as an oceanographer with less than 10 years of experience. He is currently leading several critical projects, including the bioinspired propulsor program to develop revolutionary soft-bodied, solid-state underwater vehicles that contain no rotating metallic components, produce no radiated noise, and can withstand full ocean depth hydrostatic pressure. This past year, Freeman and his team performed a tethered, in-water test of a full-scale unmanned vehicle to demonstrate the viability of a soft actuator-powered, fish-like robot with internal geometry equivalent to the muscular structures found in fish such as marlin and swordfish.

Tonn, a resident of Charlestown, Rhode Island, won in the Individual Scientist category for his exemplary contributions to improving the performance of the submarine buoyant cable antenna (BCA). In 2020, his new antenna, the advanced BCA (ABCA), transitioned to acquisition in Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Undersea Integration (PMW 770). PMW 770 issued a request for information to industry for white papers on ABCA fabrication capabilities, representing the first step toward large-scale production and making it the new standard BCA used on all platforms in the fleet. 

In the group category, the LWLCCA team, including Rhode Island residents Kevin Chambers of Newport, Nicole Evangelista of Middletown, Steven Francis of Tiverton, Brian Fuhrman of Tiverton, Nathaniel Law of North Kingstown, Daniel Orciari of North Kingstown, and Raymond Safford of Jamestown, won for pioneering a novel lightweight, low-cost conformal array for installation on a submarine platform. The team developed a sonar array that gives Virginia- and Columbia-class submarines exceptional 360-degree sonar coverage of all nearby vessels. In calendar year 2020, the team transitioned the LWLCCA system to a full production system, successfully completed manufacturing and testing of the hardware needed to install LWLCCA via a novel method, and completed all other qualification and programmatic efforts to support the first installation scheduled for this year.

The 2021 ASN Etter Award winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony at Naval Surface Warfare Center Division Carderock in Maryland on June 25. 

NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.