Thank you very much. Tim Oliver told me I’ve got five minutes and I’m off, but I may have to go to six. Thank you very much. It’s pretty amazing to be nominated for this and it’s really exciting actually to be awarded as a distinguished civilian. So thank you, whomever the selection board is. I appreciate everybody doing that.
I looked at the list of prior winners and one thing that I noticed is that all of them whom I recognize – a number of them – I had the opportunity to work with. It’s really an honor and humbling to be put on the list with them. But I thought I would give you an opportunity to learn a little bit about how I got into this business for 40 years. I guess that was enough for a career. I do have roots. I grew up in New London, Connecticut, a good Navy town. Everybody has done their time there, I’m sure. Submarines and Electric Boat are pretty much a part of everything you do. My story starts about 100 years ago. In 1915 the first submarine disaster to ever occur was the F-4, she was the original USS SKATE and went down off of Pearl Harbor.
They rushed the only five Navy divers who were then working out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard to try to do a salvage – initially a rescue but in those days it took two weeks to get there. So they went to Pearl Harbor and dove on that submarine. During one of the dives one of the divers got stuck at about 280 feet for a couple of hours, and he was saved by a diver by the name of Frank Crilley. Frank Crilley is now the namesake for Building 201 at the Navy Yard. It’s the Crilley Building, because he saved the other diver and was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Well that other diver was my grandfather. So from a young age I used to see Grandpa Bill, he had a broken hip, and he would always sit in the big chair on Sunday nights when we’d go over for pizza. But I would hear Navy stories, and that started to instill the Navy in my view. Of course my dad had worked at EB during World War II building subs as a ship fitter, and then he later returned in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s to build the nuclear Navy. I had an uncle that worked at EB for a number of years. He did interesting things. He was a deputy program manager on the Aluminaut back when R. J. Reynolds had their own submarine the Aluminaut, the Star boats, some of the more exotics. As a kid I used to get to see all these pictures of the design work coming home, and that kind of moved me down the road. Back to my grandfather for a second, interestingly enough he was stationed at the Washington Navy Yard during the ‘20s, with Swede Momsen, and helped develop the McCann Diving Chamber and the Momsen Lung. He actually worked with the design team that put together the submarine escape towers. I think the only one that’s left is the one at Pearl. The way my family ended up in New London is he was sent to New London to construct the escape tower in New London. He then moved to San Diego and oversaw that one.
While he was working in diving and salvage, he was called to almost every disaster that the submarine community faced, as we grew up in that whole business of deep diving submarines. S-5 and S-51 were two that come to mind that I know have been written up. But probably the highlight was the USS SQUALUS. He was on the USS FALCON, a submarine rescue ship, when they brought it back—he was the master diver salvage guy, when they brought back over 30 of the crew from the SQUALUS. Living in New London, I found out that I later played football with the sons of people who had been saved on the SQUALUS by the USS FALCON team there. So it’s kind of a little rich history. It tells me how I was pointed in a particular direction. And how I ended up as an engineer is because I didn’t do very well in spelling and English, but I was pretty good at math and science, so they let me into college to study engineering.
So that was how I got started. I ended up with a career that began at the Underwater Sound Lab in New London. I went through a co-op program at Northeastern and learned a lot about the lab. When I came back I worked there for a couple of years and was brought down to NAVSEA. Back then, they had NAVSHIPS, a predecessor to NAVSEA, and I worked for Don Baird and a guy named Bob Snuggs. Bob Snuggs is, of course, a NSL Distinguished Civilian Award winner from past years. He got me engaged in the submarine sonar business, AN/BQQ-5. I’m sure everybody here has been to sea with a BQQ-5. I really didn’t realize it at the time, but that was part of the transition from an analog submarine fleet and started the transition into the digital world. It was great to be part of that. The Reagan years were wonderful. I got an awful lot of satisfaction working with people like Bob Fox, the SHAPM and Frank Visted, who was the cruise missile program manager as we put Tomahawks on submarines.
I had the opportunity to work with and know very well Jack Wakefield. Jack Wakefield in the acquisition profession was the professional’s professional. He was the singular deputy program manager of the 688-class from its inception until he left to start Seawolf.
I used to ride to work with a guy named Bill Lorino, and I learned more about shipbuilding and ship design on those rides to and from Crystal City over the years. And I think all that ended up contributing to and helping me prepare to ultimately start working on the Virginia program in the ‘90s when that came along. I also had Vice Admiral J Guy Reynolds as a boss. He now has a NSL award named after him and this year, Captain Debus was awarded that today.
But I had the opportunity to work for Admiral Reynolds, and he challenged CDR Dave Burgess and me back in the late ’80s to come up with a common combat system that would work across SSBNs and SSNs. We made that work and it became the foundation for what you see today with the Common Combat System, with these rapid COTS insertions that keeps our all fleet up. It’s remarkable what did happen and what I’ve been able to
experience. Large and small businesses. I’ve kind of got a nickname for being the small business guy, but I realize that small business is never going to build a nuclear powered submarine. The HIIs, the EBs, the big guys, you’re doing what needs to be done and you’re making room and allowing small businesses to be able to contribute. I think that’s great and I think that’s part of what you see in this room today. Everybody isn’t part of a big guy. There’s another part of the team that’s coming along. I learned a lot from people like John Cottrell from the big business side, from John O’Neill, big business now he’s small business, just a number of folks that have done things. Walt Kitonis is another good example of a small business that shows what they can do.
So obviously I didn’t do all this by myself. You have to have at least two people, a money guy and a technical guy. You can’t find a better technical guy than Steve Lose.
Mr. Steve Lose: Eighteen years.
Eighteen years on Virginia. He’s the guy who brought it forward. I think that continuity is what makes everything go. I believe that we have a passion in the acquisition workforce that tries to equal what you have in the fleet. You can’t come to work at Team Sub and not feel like you’re part of the Submarine Force. That’s a passion that I want to see keep going and I want to try to mentor people who do, which is one of the things I do now. The last part of my career, as I was moved into the SHAPM and PEO business, I had the opportunity to work with guys like: CAPT Glenn Sieve; I was his deputy for a while; Captain Paul E. Sullivan, when we were working through a transition to production on Virginia; and then obviously when he became Vice Admiral Paul E. Sullivan, COMNAVSEA, then Willy Hilarides, and John Butler. And the common theme there—and I see Phil Davis here and he let me do it too—they let me do things that were not just normal. They made my life interesting, with the things we did, with the ways we used programs, our outreach to womenowned small businesses in the shipbuilding business, how to get small businesses through SBIR, how to get our money back from SBIRs and make it work for us.
So I was very blessed in having leaders that I worked for in a deputy role, to be able to do that. So I look back at many years. It was 40 that I put in and I don’t regret a moment of it and I would do it all again. And I bet everybody else on this distinguished list that gets awards like this would say the same thing.
There are probably two events that really struck me. One is, when we IOC’d Tomahawk and put airplanes on submarines, as Captain Bob Fox used to say, it changed an awful lot of what we do now. The fact that we got four SSGNs running around with the payloads they have, beefing up the Virginia payload, it’s really cool.
And when we IOC’d that I had the opportunity to not only IOC TLAM-C, but I also went through the whole Pre-Operational and Safety Study, for the nukes. I don’t know where they hid the nukes. They took them all away a number of years ago, but we’ve still got them somewhere.
And then a thing that I never thought I would get to be able to do, Jack Wakefield had told me about it, which was when I got to sign the certification message certifying lead ship Virginia ready for sea. That was probably one of the most rewarding things that came to me given the time working on that program, and recognizing the whole team, and everybody pulling their piece of the job forward over 18 years or 14 or whatever it took for us to get the lead ship out.
Like I said, inside the beltway I think we hold ourselves to a high standard. We want to keep doing it. We want to continue to be innovative. Guys like Debus, who got an award for that today, need to be recognized, and the next generation and the next generation.
With all that, I would be remiss if I did not thank my family for allowing me the opportunity.
I didn’t deploy for six months anyplace, but through long hours and lots of trips my wife, Pat manned the household as our four kids grew up pretty well. I’ve got the two boys, John and his wife Laura, and Will with us tonight. My two girls are tied up teaching field hockey and taking care of a daughter. So thank you very much. I appreciate the turnout, the thanks and the recognition.