The Fall 2023 Submarine Combat Systems Course, held at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport Nov. 13-17, was highlighted by several VIP speakers, a panel discussion and more than 20 technical briefings from subject matter experts (SMEs), who focused on how Division Newport is contributing to warfighter readiness in an era of strategic competition.
“We’re extremely fortunate and grateful to have the continued support of our enterprise leaders, not only from NUWC Division Newport and Headquarters, but also from the fleet, acquisition community and OPNAV,” said course instructor Matt O’Connell, director of programs in NUWC Division Newport’s Undersea Warfare (USW) Combat Systems Department during the event held in Chafee Auditorium.
“Their unique background and career perspectives help the class gain a balanced understanding across technical, operational and acquisition domains.”
The course, offered as part of NUWC University for several years and typically held in May, is also conducted annually at Draper Labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Naval Construction and Engineering 2N Master’s Program Professional Summer session. This session was the largest ever, with approximately 170 students from Division Newport’s workforce in attendance. Division Newport has conducted the class at MIT each June since the 1990s and, in 2021, expanded the internal NUWC University offering to include a fall session.
Course objectives provided students with an overall understanding of submarine combat systems and the factors that drive system capabilities, including examining submarine missions, warfighting scenarios and the applicable operating environments that impact platform design. Topic areas were broken out by sessions, which encompassed submarine/undersea warfare (USW) platforms and systems, submarine C4I systems, and USW effects and strategic deterrence. Each session included VIP and keynote speakers from both Division Newport and external organizations.
Division Newport speakers included Marie Bussiere, who will begin her tenure as technical director of the command in December. Bussiere discussed the evolution of the submarine combat systems and its pacing role in digital transformation.
Gene Hackney, director of undersea warfare at NUWC Headquarters, provided an overview of Division Newport’s efforts for Project Overmatch, while Rebecca Chhim, acting technical director and head of the USW Combat Systems Department, focused on career development and work-life balance.
Included in the list of external senior leadership speakers were four first-time participants: Lisa Radocha, executive director, executive director, Program Executive Office, Attack Submarines (PEO SSN); Capt. Todd Moore, chief of staff, Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC); Capt. Mark Parrella, program manager, Columbia-class SSBN Program (PMS 397); and Rear Adm.-select Todd Weeks, program executive officer, Undersea Warfare Systems (PEO UWS). Recurring speaker Brad Neff, a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and deputy director, Undersea Warfare Division (OPNAV N97B), closed the November session. Radocha and Weeks brought acquisition viewpoints to the course, complementing the operational insights presented by Moore and resource sponsor challenges discussed by Neff.
Additionally, for the first time, there was a 30-minute roundtable discussion where questions from the class were addressed by panel members that included Division Newport Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings, Chhim, and Mike Cockey, a retired U.S. Navy captain and deputy director of undersea warfare at NUWC Headquarters, who also provided a lecture.
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