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NEWS | Nov. 17, 2021

NSWC Crane department head awarded for Department leadership

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

A Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) Department Head was awarded the Department of the Navy (DoN) Meritorious Civilian Service Award, which is the third highest Navy Civilian Award.

Benjamin Harkness, the Deputy Technical Director at NSWC Crane, was recognized for his “outstanding contributions” in this role as the Department Director for Global Deterrence and Defense Department from June 2009 to May 2021.

“I really appreciate the recognition from the Program Offices we have supported over the years,” says Harkness. “It signals the affirmation of the hard work of the team at NSWC Crane. It takes all of us here at Crane to fulfill mission requirements. The thing that makes me proud is our ability to look at gaps in technology, and develop solutions to close those gaps – those were all opportunities for the Crane workforce to assist programs going to the next level.”

The award citation lists, “As the Strategic Missions Focus Area Champion, your vision in Trusted Electronics and Hardware Cybersecurity, Navy-Air Force-Missile Defense Agency Collaboration, and Emerging Missions has led to the establishment of eight national leadership roles for your workforce. In 2010, you initiated the establishment of a Master of Engineering Program with Purdue University focused on Electrochemistry to ensure that your workforce had the requisite technical capabilities to meet customer requirements. You established innovation labs in microelectronics, radar, microwave components, and battery technology. A 2015 United States Government Accountability Office review of the Department of Defense's efforts to address vulnerabilities from counterfeit parts recognized your Department's leadership in preventing phony parts from entering Navy and Missile Defense Agency systems. Under your guidance, there was a substantial increase in Research Development, Test, and Evaluation direct funded work by 2019 which was accompanied by a 200 percent increase in patent disclosures. To bolster hypersonic capabilities for the nation, you secured the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office Systems Engineering Field Activity at Naval Support Activity in Crane, Indiana in 2020.”

Global Deterrence and Defense Department at NSWC Crane does full spectrum systems engineering and sustainment of Strategic Programs. Harkness credits the success of the Strategic Missions team to leaning forward.

“One of the things we’ve pushed is innovation. We’ve established several innovation labs where our technical subject matter experts (SMEs) could collaborate and develop research and development projects to pave the way for the next generation of electronics, microwave devices, computing, and missile technology needed to outpace threats of our adversaries.”

Harkness started his career at NSWC Crane in 1988 after graduating from Purdue University with degree in Electrical Engineering. He started as lead maintenance and test engineer for depot operations of several military computer and sonar systems. He was responsible for test development, production planning, and test facility management.

“I was learning how to take my education and interest in electronics and putting it into practice. I worked on engineering and maintenance for Navy standard computers. Much of the credit for what I’ve learned goes to the technicians I worked closely with who took time to mentor me early in my career.”

Harkness says leading Strategic Missions over the years means being committed to the mission.

“NSWC Crane has a responsibility to steward electronics and Strategic Missions, which are national level programs,” says Harkness. “As a result, the leadership team has remained focused, leaned forward, and looked for effective strategies to bring about capabilities for the next generation technical systems we support. Supporting Strategic Missions puts us right in the middle of Navy Programs like the Columbia program along with new technologies and enhancements, like supporting hypersonics. We’re doing this while maintaining over sixty years of technical excellence of ensuring trusted and supportive electronics that go into these types of systems.”

Harkness explains it takes collaboration to achieve this excellence.

“It’s important to emphasize it takes a team of dedicated professionals in academia, industry, and government to ensure our warfighters have the best equipment possible. It was an honor to be able to serve with many colleagues who have dedicated whole careers to ensuring our nation’s service members have what they need to protect our nation.”

Harkness says his time in his role has been important to him and that he had the benefit of being part of a great workforce.

“It’s been an honor for me to be part of a team at Crane where we have been able to provide technical leadership in some of the most important and high priority programs the Navy has in place,” says Harkness. “The capabilities established in these technical programs and technical assignments will result in positioning Crane to provide technical leadership in these areas for decades to come.”

Harkness says these efforts of providing capability to the warfighter continue.

“Thanks to the team for a great run. It has been important to me and to remind myself and the group: don’t be stagnant or stationary. Let’s keep moving forward. Press on!”

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

Join Our Team! NAVSEA employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce - from students and entry level employees to experienced professionals and individuals with disabilities. We support today's sophisticated Navy and Marine Corps ships, aircraft, weapon systems and computer systems. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics and other support experts to ensure the U.S. Navy can protect and defend America. Please connect with NSWC Crane Recruiting at this site - or email us at