DAHLGREN, Va. — Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) leaders briefed Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert on technologies ranging from the electromagnetic railgun to the laser weapon system during his visit here Sept. 4.
The CNO spoke to Sailors and civilian technologists about the great impact of emerging capabilities on the current and future fleet during an All Hands call held after his tour.
"You are the test and evaluation national treasure that makes the surface fleet more lethal and more survivable," Greenert told more than 400 military, government, and contractor personnel from Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, NSWCDD, Aegis Training and Readiness Center, Center for Surface Combat Systems, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, Joint Warfare and Analysis Center, and the 614th Air and Space Operations Center.
The national treasure he observed included NSWCDD facilities where real-time spectrum operations and directed energy technologies such as the laser weapon system and electromagnetic railgun are under a continual state of research, development, test and evaluation.
"I am really excited — you are taking concepts and putting it in the fleet for what is, up until now, record time," said Greenert, pointing out that NSWCDD scientists and engineers are integrating the laser weapon system into the USS Ponce (AFSB-I), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock.
"We have to continue to turn this cycle faster and faster," said Greenert, standing on a stage facing a 16-inch naval gun displayed at the end of the parade field. "Technology gets proliferated and other people have systems that we really don't want them to have. We have to figure out how to defeat and stay ahead of that — and be where it matters, when it matters."
The installation of the laser weapon system on Ponce for at-sea testing in the Persian Gulf fulfills plans the CNO announced at the 2013 Sea-Air-Space Expo. The deployment on Ponce will prove crucial as the Navy continues its push to provide laser weapons to the fleet at large.
The CNO — who observed an electromagnetic railgun firing — described the technology as "our future surface weapon" during the All Hands event to be available video on-demand via the NSWCDD internal website to the command's 6,000 plus personnel comprised of government civilians, contractors, and military members.
The electromagnetic railgun launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph to 5,600 miles per hour.
Moreover, Greenert considers the system a revolutionary technology that gives the Navy an extremely affordable, multi-mission weapon with a deep magazine and unmatched precision, targeting and control functions. Since lasers run on electricity, they can be fired as long as there is power and provide a measure of safety as they don't require carrying propellants and explosives aboard ships. The advancing technology gives Sailors a variety of options they never had before, including the ability to control a laser weapon's output and perform actions ranging from non-lethal disabling and deterrence all the way up to destruction.
The CNO congratulated three NSWCDD employees as Capt. Mary Feinberg, Naval Support Activity South Potomac commanding officer, read award citations commending their role in turning ships into warships. Greenert later recounted for all hands in attendance that NSWCDD Commander Capt. Brian Durant presented him with a coin inscribed with the command's slogan, "we don't build ships, we turn them into warships."
The three employees receiving awards were Dr. James Moreland, Michael Purello and Kevin Stottlar.
The CNO presented Moreland with the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award for his leadership on an extensive range of naval, joint and coalition efforts to develop and implement innovative strategic concepts to shape future requirements, organizational strategy, and operational doctrine under strict constraints and timelines. "Dr. Moreland demonstrated this expertise by implementing a structured mission engineering approach for the Vice Chief of Naval Operations Integration and Interoperability Activity to emphasize capability-based requirements," according to the citation.
Greenert presented the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award to Purello in recognition of significant leadership as NSWCDD Chemical, Biological and Radiological Defense (CBRD) Division Head. "Purello led the unprecedented technical advancements of the CBRD Division and propelled NSWC Dahlgren Division to the forefront of the Joint Service and international CBRD community," according to the citation. "In addition, Mr. Purello's coordination efforts in the aftermath of the radiological contamination event at Fukushima, Japan, led to NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command)establishing the Dahlgren Radiological Control Data Center. Finally, he led NSWCDD's highly successful 2013 Individuals with Targeted Disabilities campaign, thereby demonstrating his commitment to the human aspect of technology development."
The CNO presented the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award to Stottlar for his outstanding service, technical expertise, and superior leadership in support of advancing weapon and combat system safety engineering. "Throughout his Navy career, his dedication to advancing weapon and combat system safety engineering has led to enhanced safety engineering processes and methodologies, and has resulted in safer, more effective AEGIS and AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities being deployed in the Fleet," according to the citation. "Mr. Stottlar has influenced U.S. Navy systems safety policy and has expanded the scope of system safety engineering for foreign military sales."
The CNO is the senior military officer of the Department of the Navy. The CNO is a four star admiral and is responsible to the Secretary of the Navy for the command, utilization of resources, and operating efficiency of the operating forces of the Navy and of the Navy shore activities assigned by the Secretary.
NSWCDD, a NAVSEA warfare center division, is a premier research and development center that serves as a specialty site for weapon system integration. The command's unique ability to rapidly introduce new technology into complex warfighting systems is based on its longstanding competencies in science and technology, research and development, and test and evaluation.