Photo By Richard Allen

NUWC Division Newport celebrates employees with ice cream social, annual awards ceremony

Nearly 500 Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport employees kicked off the “Celebrating our Mission, Appreciating our People” campaign with an ice cream social and leadership meet and greet on July 8.

The campaign, aimed at expanding command awareness and showing appreciation to both new and experienced employees, will feature events throughout the summer, including a two-day annual awards ceremony later this week.

Division Newport Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings and Technical Director Ron Vien hosted the ice cream social that included deputy technical directors and department heads. The social offered a chance for employee networking, introductions for new hires and gave employees an opportunity to learn more about the command’s undersea warfare support to the U.S. Navy.

More than 400 employees were hired at Division Newport in 2020, a year in which the majority of the workforce was teleworking because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re open for business,” Vien said, welcoming employees and commenting on the many new faces at Division Newport.

An important part of the event for those recent hires was meeting co-workers in person rather than in the virtual world.

Jodi Neuville and Nynashka Velisse Allende Landan, administrative/technical specialists in the Undersea Warfare (USW) Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department, joined Division Newport in August and September 2020, respectively.

“It’s nice that we’re actually able to do this,” said Allende Landan, who, along with Neuville, has interacted with co-workers primarily by phone and email.

Contracts specialists Nick Brown, who joined Division Newport in August 2020, and Donovan Montville, Shawn Conroy and William Hanna, who were hired this month, appreciated the opportunity to get more information on Division Newport’s mission and look at posters from the 2020 Annual Overview that were on display. Brown was interested in networking with employees he supports in other departments, meeting many of them in person for the first time.

“I’m here to meet people because I’ve been teleworking since I started,” Brown said. “This is the most people I’ve seen in one place in a year and a half.”

A shared sense of collaboration and learning about what’s going on outside of their respective departments was apparent among several attendees, who appreciated the opportunity to connect with co-workers across various departments.

Allison Redington, a Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP) mechanical engineer on a rotational assignment in the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department, said that the posters, providing an overview of what’s going on throughout the Division, was a great way to combat the tunnel vision that can occur from the day-to-day focus on one’s individual tasks.

Lauren Schad, an engineer in the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, arrived to the social following a meeting with Submarine Acoustic Systems Program Office (PMS 401) staff who were visiting from Washington, D.C., and was looking to follow up with several co-workers.

Schad also had the opportunity to chat with the technical director, who she had met briefly at prior events.

“I came into this thinking, ‘let’s talk to people!’” she said.

Sean Carcanague, a torpedo analyst, and Andrew Vanroy, a torpedo analyst intern and rising junior studying ocean engineering at the University of Rhode Island, both in the USW Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department, took the opportunity to introduce themselves to Vien.

“We talked about how this is an important job, defending our nation,” Vanroy said.

Carcanague recalled Vien’s presentation during a new employee orientation about how Division Newport puts an emphasis on continuing education. He plans to seek out and network with those who have already taken advantage of the Division’s education assistance programs.

“I found that really motivating,” Carcanague said.

From a leadership perspective, Dawn Vaillancourt, head, Strategic Planning Office, went to the event hoping to meet new people.

“I want to see faces I haven’t seen, hear where folks are from, what department, and see if there’s anything I can do to help them,” Vaillancourt said.

Next up for the “Celebrating our Mission, Appreciating our People” campaign is the 2020 Annual Awards ceremony that is being held over two days.

“While our award winners represent the best of the best for 2020, all nominees should be proud of their successes over the past year,” Vien said about the awards. “The ultimate beneficiary of your hard work is the fleet. It’s the warfighter on a ship that’s more cyber secure using technology that is not only cutting edge but it was delivered on time and budget – provided by a Division Newport team who operated in a safe, inclusive, cost-efficient work environment. Your efforts to make all that happen and that’s what we are celebrating.”

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.