PORT HUENEME, Calif. –
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) Test Officer Lt. Steven Hawkins prepares for retirement, he has a new and significant accomplishment to add to his 22-year Navy career: receiving the 2020 National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Tester of the Year Award.
As the Navy test officer for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) test and evaluation, Hawkins leads large multi-organizational shipboard test teams to advance warfighting capabilities, specifically combat and weapons systems, for the Navy fleet and the Missile Defense Agency.
Last year, Hawkins led two missions that garnered him the NDIA Tester of the Year Award, both of which were firsts for the Navy. One was a hypersonic tracking event which involved two DDG ships in the broad open ocean area and two environmental labs at the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, Ballistic Missile Defense test site at Point Loma Naval Base and Aegis Ashore Kauai. Hawkins successfully accomplished the mission in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were managing five assets when COVID-19 happened right at the mission execution; the last two weeks of the mission were in March, so the world was in full-blown COVID-19, and the country was shutting down, but we were still in Kauai executing the mission,” Hawkins explained. “We had to manage 75 to 80 test team members from NSWC Port Hueneme Division and contractors so they could return from the two ships back to their home stations, and make sure they were safe and accounted for.”
The second mission involved another first for the Navy—a Stellar Lancer flight test mission (FTM-44). Hawkins provided support to an Aegis BMD asset, which was an Aegis Baseline 9.C2 DDG, to intercept an intercontinental ballistic missile target with a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA. The event’s success advanced lethality for the Navy fleet, Hawkins said.
“In November, we executed FTM-44 as the first-ever Navy-intercepted intercontinental ballistic missile, and that was a huge leap in capability; two huge missions operating in a COVID-19 environment even in November with all the travel heavily scrutinized, so we were required to manage it at a very detailed level,” he said. “We basically operated the mission at 50% or less of our normal manning due to travel restrictions.”
According to his nomination for the NDIA Tester of the Year Award, Hawkins spearheaded a response to an issue during the live-fire event. He worked with the firing ship’s commanding officer and then recorded information needed to brief the flag officers, all while executing mission objectives.
Stanley Williams, NSWC PHD BMD test and evaluation project manager, oversees Hawkins as his operational supervisor and said he is well-deserving of the award.
“Lt. Hawkins is forward-leaning and continued to flawlessly execute all assigned ballistic missile defense test and evaluation missions,” Williams said. “He navigated complex and challenging COVID-19 restrictions to successfully execute the most multi-faceted BMD campaigns. Steve’s professional ability to interface with flag officers and executive leadership has significantly contributed to the reputation of the BMD team, NSWC PHD and the Navy.”
Hawkins also received a three-star recognition letter from Vice Adm. Jon Hill, Missile Defense Agency director, for his efforts executing the mission.
Williams additionally shared his admiration of Hawkins, his strong character and his service to NSWC PHD, the Navy and the United States.
“Lt. Hawkins is the ‘elite’ of the fleet and everything that is good about those who serve our Navy and country with honor and distinction,” Williams added.
With his career coming to a close, Hawkins noted several aspects about his job with the Navy that he enjoys, including being instrumental in bringing capabilities to serve the fleet and the warfighter.
“I enjoy developing capabilities for the Navy to deploy and being a part of the process that gives ships the capability to defend themselves or sea-based assets from threats that the enemy has, and taking those things and getting them fully vetted out before we deploy them,” he said. “I also want to thank the shipboard test team leadership because they are at the tip of the spear during mission execution, as well as the commanding officers and firing team on all participating DDGs for both events.”