Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Dr. Eugene “Michael” Golda gave a lecture about NSWCPD’s history as a part of National Engineers Week on Feb. 22, 2023.
NSWCPD Chief Engineer Adam “Scott” Freedner helped kick off the lecture with his opening remarks.
“The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Creating the Future’, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to describe the efforts and accomplishments of our engineers here in Philadelphia and across the Nation. Collectively, we bring present and future warfighters the systems and products required to expand the advantage over our adversaries,” Freedner said.
He added, “Whether it be keeping the nation’s current carriers, submarines, and surface fleet on point, providing much-needed system modernization or researching, developing, and testing systems for the future. Your efforts are recognized across the Navy enterprise.”
Freedner also recognized NSWCPD’s longest-serving engineer Dan Miller and the newest engineering hire Chris Heckman as part of the event’s opening remarks.
Golda began his lecture by dedicating his presentation to the memory of Capt. David Brant McGuigan (Ret), first Commanding Officer of the Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station (NAVSSES), the predecessor organization of the Philadelphia Division.
“Capt. McGuigan more than anyone was a ferocious champion of this organization. He stood up the Naval Ships Systems Engineering Station when it was nothing more than a single block on a PowerPoint presentation down at headquarters and he put together a team that established a lot of the traditions we don’t even think about today but are a part of our DNA,” Golda said.
He continued, “The way we look at supporting the fleet. The way we look at innovation. The way we look at accepting challenges. Those can be traced directly back to Capt. McGuigan.”
Golda connected the theme of this year’s National Engineers Week to NSWCPD’s past as he started his speech.
“I know that this week’s theme is ‘Creating the Future’, but we [NSWCPD] have been creating the future since we were established back in 1910,” Golda said.
The CTO shared with those present in the Melville Room in Building 77L and those attending virtually the history and importance of the room’s namesake.
“In the late 1880s, the United States Navy was not much to look at … The Navy couldn’t make a decision whether they would gamble on machinery propulsion or if they were going to stick with those sails because it was tradition … In 1887, the President [Grover Cleveland] reached deep within the Navy engineering community and selected a relatively junior officer and promoted him to Admiral, Adm. George Wallace Melville,” Golda said.
He added, “At that point, Melville who had been a Civil War combat veteran, was already an internationally acclaimed arctic explorer, and was also an exceptional engineer. He took command and moved the Navy into the modern era.”
Melville’s drive to innovate is a founding principle that still exists in the NSWCPD. The drive to innovate was instrumental in numerous breakthroughs throughout the 20th century and continues revolutionizing naval machinery technology in the 21st century, according to Golda.
One of the many NSWCPD breakthroughs was the move to oil-powered ships from coal-powered ships and the numerous advances needed to keep those new, oil-fired boilers operating safely and efficiently.
“They [NSWCPD engineers] took a look at the best way to atomize that fuel, to turn it into a mist so it would burn effectively, and that resulted in the first Philadelphia patent. The patent application was submitted in July of 1915 and awarded March 1918. We continue to be a patent-based organization protecting Navy intellectual property,” Golda said.
The story of NSWCPD is filled with the engineering advances created by past and present Navy engineers working to further the Navy’s missions. Sharing that heritage to encourage an innovative spirit is what keeps Golda coming back to give these lectures and learn more in the process.
“To quote Capt. McGuigan, ‘We just don’t push the paper from one side of the desk to the other.’ We do real engineering, hands-on engineering, wrench-turning engineering. If a ship in the fleet needs helps with its machinery, this organization will put people on a plane 24/7 365 to go anywhere in the world to help that ship,” Golda said. “I think that says so much about the people of NSWCPD. To be able to talk a little about what the team here has accomplished is always a pleasure … It was really a lot of fun to learn more about who we are and what we’ve done.”
Machinery Research, Logistics, and Ship Integrity Department Head Dawn Ware gave the event’s closing remarks as she celebrated her impending retirement after 35 years with NSWCPD.
“Engineers are innovators, so be brave and take that leap of faith that will stretch you and put you on a journey to new and rewarding adventures. You’ll end up like I have, in places you would have never dreamed you would be,” Ware said.
NSWCPD employs approximately 2,800 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel. The NSWCPD team does the research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service and logistics engineering for the non-nuclear machinery, ship machinery systems, and related equipment and material for Navy surface ships and submarines. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.