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NEWS | Jan. 20, 2022

NSWC Crane department director awarded for leadership in Expeditionary Warfare

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

A Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) Department Director was awarded the Department of the Navy (DoN) Meritorious Civilian Service Award (MCSA), which is the third highest award a Navy civilian can receive.

Patricia Herndon, the Department Director for Special Warfare and Expeditionary Systems Department at NSWC Crane, received the MCSA for her “outstanding performance” in her Department leadership role from July 2015 to August 2021.

Herndon, who also serves as a Senior Scientist & Technical Manager (SSTM), says the award represents the efforts of many employees.

“It is an honor to be recognized for the significant changes, growth, products delivered, and support we’ve provided,” says Herndon. “It takes a team. I can provide leadership and support, but it’s the managers and people on the deck plate that make it work. I can set goals and guidelines, but it’s the commitment of the team that has enabled the achievement of the accomplishments over the last six years’ work.”

The award citation states that Herndon “demonstrated exceptional leadership and technical knowledge in the development of the Department’s strategic plan, technical thrust areas, and an increase of 330 percent in the research and development workload.”

Herndon says the research and development (R&D) workload increase involved identifying areas the Department could provide improvements to the Warfighter’s capabilities.

“The challenge to division managers was to identify areas in Expeditionary that had technical gaps where we could advance warfighter capabilities,” says Herndon. “We were looking ahead and trying to modernize the Department of Defense (DoD) for the next generation fight, the great power competition. In order to compete, we had to improve warfighter capability and technology. We looked at ourselves more holistically and what we provide across the kill chain—the Expeditionary warfighter needs capabilities at his fingertips.”

The award also states Herndon “achieved a 96 percent customer satisfaction rating”, improved from an 80 percent rating when she started in the role in 2015. She “developed the Mission Engineering for Battalion Fires; Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (CUAS) Marine Air Defense Integrated System; a CUAS Swarm program; High Energy Storage Module for shipboard power requirements; and I-Stalker capabilities. [She] established a new Dual Masters of Science in Defense Engineering and Technology with a concentration in Expeditionary Warfare degree program in partnership with Cranfield University in the United Kingdom and Purdue University in Indiana.”

Herndon received her Bachelor’s Degree from Purdue University in Chemical Engineering. During college, she participated in the Cooperative Engineering Education Program working at NSWC Crane. Herndon served in many technical and management roles at NSWC Crane, and has also completed an assignment at PEO Integrated Warfare Systems prior to returning to Crane and assuming the Department Director position in 2015.

“The key to great customer success is great communication,” says Herndon. “You have to be lock step with the customer and ensure they know the risks. During my time as a program manager, I learned what PMs were looking for—as Department Director I can help our team understand what the customer is looking for and understand their challenges.”

The AN/SAY-3 Sensor System, or I-Stalker program, is a critical situational awareness system for Navy ships. It provides adds clarity in observation and identification of contacts or other maritime features on the visual horizon and elimination of blind spots.

The Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) 219 program provides funding for Basic & Applied Research, Technology Transition, Workforce Development, and Laboratory Revitalization within the Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories to grow internal technical capabilities of the workforce and build critical infrastructure. Herndon says I-Stalker, which replaced an older technology for the fleet, began as an R&D project.

“It started as NISE 219 funding, a multiple sensor system for shipboard situational awareness,” says Herndon. “The fleet liked it; it wasn’t a program of record. Aircraft carrier Commanders realized the need for 360 degree situational awareness—the I-Stalker system started as a prototype to enhance navigation and identify threats, and now it is an official program of record.”

In 2019, the Dual Master’s Degree in Defense Engineering and Technology with a concentration in Expeditionary Warfare was established by Purdue University and Cranfield University, a university based from the United Kingdom. This tailored degree program was a unique approach to a workforce development need to train highly technical and specialized skills to expeditionary employees.

“The program is able to increase the knowledge of the workforce that is applicable to the type of work they provide the warfighter,” says Herndon. “Typically, a student wouldn’t work on defense-related technology in college. This program provides that applicable experience. It also is a nice way to get a technically rigorous degree while working full-time, as the program fits the needs of employees’ schedules.”

Herndon explains that new programs are necessary to meet evolving needs of threats.

“We’ve had to do these programs, such as I-Stalker, because the fight is changing,” says Herndon. “In order for our forces to be supported, it requires our ingenuity as well as leveraging NISE 219 funds. The next generation of threats requires us to think ahead and leapfrog technology gaps.”

Herndon says continuing to adapt is a crucial component to the Expeditionary mission.

“We’ve looked at our six strategic thrust areas in expeditionary and we’ve identified the technical skills we need to meet the coming threats and challenges. It’s critical that we continue to find ways to be better than our peer adversaries, continue to educate the workforce, and continue to advance in technology areas so the warfighter gets solutions as quickly as possible.”

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