WASHINGTON — Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installation and Environment) Dennis McGinn honored two government civilians with the Secretary of the Navy Safety Excellence Award during a Pentagon ceremony Oct. 20.
The Navy civilians — systems safety practitioners Rebecca Funkhouser and Robert Heflin — received the award on behalf of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Systems Safety Engineering Division.
"It was a privilege to represent our outstanding organization and all of the hardworking and dedicated system safety practitioners in it," said Funkhouser, a scientist working with a team dedicated to reducing operational risk for Sailors aboard ships, including the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) — a fast, maneuverable and networked surface combatant designed to accomplish critical warfighting missions, including mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.
McGinn presented Heflin and Funkhouser with a plaque inscribed with the motto "Mission First, Safety Always."
"It was an honor to be allowed to represent our Systems Safety Engineering Division,” said Heflin, an NSWCDD senior safety engineer. “It's an outstanding organization, truly committed to providing our warfighters with the safest possible environment."
The Secretary of the Navy's Safety Excellence Awards — created to showcase Navy and Marine Corps commands that exemplify exceptional and sustained safety excellence — recognizes commands and programs that have gone above and beyond normal duties to ensure the safety of Sailors, Marines, civilians, and resources.
Specifically, the NSWCDD team won the Secretary of the Navy Safety Excellence Award for Safety Integration in Acquisition — a category that commends teams with an acquisition mission that made a significant impact by integrating safety into their programs, projects or systems.
"The strategic planning and innovative approaches implemented within our organization are expected to facilitate new methods as we engage in these advanced disciplinary concepts," said Melissa Lederer, NSWCDD Systems Safety Engineering Division head. "It is this forward looking approach and proactivity in advancing the discipline which distinguishes the Systems Safety Engineering Division as the premier U.S. Navy safety organization for acquisition programs and demonstrates our strong practice of advancing the culture of robust system safety engineering practices and their integration within acquisition."
On the horizon at NSWC Dahlgren Division are integration and interoperability safety, and the application of system safety within a mission engineering approach.
"The Systems Safety Engineering Division has been on the cutting edge for developing and advancing system safety engineering practices, processes and methodologies for decades," said Lederer. "As an organization we have been forward focused in developing new and innovative approaches to system safety engineering for systems of systems and new and emergent technologies.”
NSWCDD systems safety engineers ensure naval guns, ammunition, and gun barrels headed for the fleet are safe and effective. Moreover, they oversee the safe development and testing of new weapons from the electromagnetic railgun to the laser weapons system in addition to testing of new types of ammunition, such as reactive materials.