NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. –
Growing up, everyone has a dream on what they want to be. Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Brian Bennett, who later this month will become the Engineering and Planning Manager (Code 200), was no different.
“I wanted to be a doctor,” laughed Bennett. “But not sure how that would have worked out as I used to get lightheaded giving a sample of blood.” As for most, dreams change and Bennett fell in love with engineering.
Born in Syracuse, NY and raised in Clearwater, Fla., Bennett attended Georgia Institute of Technology, earning his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in 1991. Not long after, he reported to NNSY, his first job after graduation.
“I started my 30-year career at NNSY as a mechanical engineer in the Surface Ship Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Branch (Code 262),” said Bennett. “From there I gained knowledge and leadership skills from multiple positions throughout the shipyard and our naval maintenance community. I served as the Engineering and Planning Department as a planning yard engineer, cog engineer, and trouble desk engineer. I worked on a number of availabilities in various roles throughout my career from Project Engineering and Planning Manager (Code 241) all the way to Project Superintendent and Carrier Program Manager (Code 312. Most recently I was NNSY’s Deputy Supply Officer (Code 501).”
Bennett knew from the start that he wanted to become Code 200 one day. In order to do so, he worked to step outside his comfort zone numerous times, being open minded to constructive criticism not only from his supervisors, but also from his peers and mentors, both inside and outside his department. He took the things he learned and used it to his advantage to make himself a better worker and leader for NNSY.
“Brian was selected from a slate of very capable and highly qualified candidates which is a testament to his training, experience, leadership and readiness to join the ranks of the command’s most senior leadership,” said NNSY Shipyard Commander, Capt. Dianna Wolfson.
With any job or position comes challenges that have to be overcome. Becoming the new Code 200 is no different. “We have challenges matching overall workload to the available workforce compounded by rapidly changing technology and system design, particularly relative to Virginia Class and Ford Class ramp up,” said Bennett. “We will continue to support the Fleet’s needs with respect to turnover of the L-Ship Planning Yard functions as well as a future decision on USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Planning Yard responsibilities. ”In the area of unbalanced workload versus workforce, we will continue to communicate our true capacity to the project teams, work the most important priorities first, utilize potential available resources elsewhere in the department and investigate potential reductions in the required workload, like deficiency log reduction efforts.”
Bennett continued, “Finally, in the area of future availability planning, we have been gaining Virginia Class lessons learned from Portsmouth and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyards for many months now, so as we continue to prepare for the USS John Warner (SSN 785) Fiscal Year 2023 Extended Docking Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA), it’s time to start incorporating these lessons learned into our project’s execution strategies and job summary preparation.”
Bennett will face these challenges with a mindset of “Houston, we have a problem” from Apollo 13. “At the shipyard, we are confronted with many complex, challenging problems in the repair, maintenance and modernization of our Navy’s warships and failure is not an option – ‘Houston, we have a problem,’” said Bennett. “It takes each and every one of us to determine solutions to these problems to meet the needs of the Fleet. Half the battle is showing up with a positive attitude, one that is contagious to those around us and conducive to developing viable and executable solutions – ‘positivity breeds positivity.’”
Another way Bennett is going to combat challenges is to continue recruiting and retaining the best and brightest personnel and provide them an opportunity to grow and excel, all while the shipyard continues improving its productivity, predictability and on-time completion of its availabilities, ultimately supporting the Fleet’s needs.
“I look forward to being the new Engineering and Planning Manager and leading the talented and skilled employees of Code 200 to great success in meeting our mission of repairing, modernizing and inactivating our Navy’s warships and training platforms,” said Bennett. “We are America’s Shipyard for a reason and with the mantra of ONE MISSION – ONE TEAM, we can and will accomplish everything we set out to do.”