NEWPORT, R.I. –
Sometimes solving the greatest challenges in undersea warfare require Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport scientists and engineers to think outside the submarine. Adrian Markey, a customer advocate in the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department, embodies this mindset, bringing a global perspective to his work at Division Newport.
Markey, who began his career at Division Newport in September 2009, recently returned to the warfare center after a five-year appointment as the chief engineer for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) Naval Forces Sensor and Weapons Accuracy Check Sites (FORACS), based at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
“I left NUWC around Christmas 2016 and it was a permanent change of station move. I took my family — I have two daughters, who at that time were 16 and 13, my wife and two dogs — and we travelled over there after renting out our house in Portsmouth,” Markey said. “It broadened my outlook on different ways of doing things, different ways of solving problems. I learned a lot about how to manage and how to interact across different cultures.
“Some nations are specialists in certain areas. The Brits, for example, are very good at antisubmarine warfare. The Italians are very good at electronic warfare. The Germans, mine hunting. It’s great to see experts in their field operate and to see their equipment. That expanded my technical and tactical appreciation for what I do as an engineer in the Department of Defense (DoD).”
FORACS tests the accuracy of ship, submarine and maritime aircraft sensors, such as radar, sonar, electronic warfare, electro-optical, lasers, navigation equipment and gyroscopes.
In his role, Markey was responsible for technical oversight of NATO’s three ranges, located in Stavanger, Norway, Souda Bay, Greece, and at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) in the Bahamas, the latter of which is managed by Division Newport.
Markey explained, though, that his interactions extended beyond just those three countries. A steering committee of eight of the 30 NATO countries is responsible for the day-to-day funding of the ranges. Biannual meetings are held in each country — United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Greece and Canada — on a rotating basis to give strategic direction to the program management shop and ensure collaborative decision-making.
“There was a lot of great professional engagement done internationally across these eight nations,” Markey said. “A lot of exchange of ideas, collaboration, different ways of doing things and trying to pick the best approach, but also socially it was very rewarding. You get to see these different foreign cities and learn about the culture.”
For Markey, this was the latest international endeavor in a life rich with worldly experience. He grew up in Grimsby, England, a port town in the eastern part of the country on the Humber Estuary not far from the North Sea.
“I lived in a coastal fishing town, so I had an interest in the maritime environment,” Markey said. “I also had an interest in flying.”
These passions ultimately led him to enlist in the British Royal Navy after earning a degree in mechanical engineering from Sheffield University. Not long after, Markey was in flight training in southwest England when he met his wife, an American who at the time was studying at one of the local universities.
“My wife has an English father and American mother,” Markey said. “At the time, although she wasn’t British, if you had first blood who was British you could get free college education.”
After a few more years living in the United Kingdom, where Markey was an aviator and warfare officer, he and his wife moved to the U.S. In his last tour with the Navy, Markey was the British exchange officer and an instructor at the Surface Warfare Officer School (SWOS), located at Naval Station Newport. There, he taught anti-submarine warfare courses to tactical action officers and prospective commanding officers.
“When I retired after 16 years in the Royal Navy I became a U.S. citizen. I worked in industry in California for a year and then came back to SWOS as a DoD civilian, where I was running the warfare simulators,” Markey said. “I did that for about a year and then got picked up by NUWC. I started in the Undersea Warfare (USW) Electromagnetic Systems Department, where I was on the photonics periscope project, and then I became a branch head in the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department. After that, I was a technical project manager for the Shipboard Electronic Systems Evaluation Facility and then I got the NATO position.”
The job with NATO likely would not have come along for Markey had he not had a chance conversation with Trevor Kelly-Bissonnette at the 2015 Division Newport Christmas party. There, they chatted about Kelly-Bissonnette’s experience as the technical director/program manager at NATO FORACS.
“This is a great example of what you can learn from colleagues when you can see them in-person. Adrian and I didn’t know each other, but if not for the Christmas party, we would not have spoken,” Kelly-Bissonnette said. “My experience at NATO FORACS definitely shaped my perspective on many things.
“It was very rewarding to be the lead of an organization for six years. The program operated outside the civil-budget (controlled annually), which allowed for long-term planning and investment. We accomplished a lot in a fairly short period time with a dedicated and focused team.”
Kelly-Bissonnette, who now serves as director of Division Newport’s International Cooperation program, added that many of the skills she gained at NUWC — like writing proposals, financial planning, risk analysis and defending budgets working across organizations — allowed for a smooth transition to working at NATO.
“NATO strategically likes having a U.S. presence in that office since it was one of the original founding members that established the program in 1974,” Kelly-Bissonnette said. “FORACS testing requires a unique skill set, and the engineers at NUWC Newport and Keyport involved in U.S. FORACS are in an excellent position to compete for the two rotating posts (program manager/technical director and chief engineer) in the NATO FORACS Office.”
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.
Join our team! NUWC Division Newport, one of the 20 largest employers in Rhode Island, employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics and other support experts who wish to be at the forefront of undersea research and development. Please connect with NUWC Division Newport Recruiting at this site- https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NUWC-Newport/Career-Opportunities/ and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.