DAHLGREN, Va. – On June 17, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) hosted four Naval Academy midshipmen for a tour of the warfare center’s facilities and briefings on some of its most innovative initiatives.
Briefings on Dahlgren’s work in hypersonics and its battle management system (BMS) program were led by department leadership while an overview of NSWCDD’s role in supporting the fleet was led by NSWCDD Commanding Officer Captain Stephen “Casey” Plew.
During his brief to the midshipmen, Plew called the relationship between the warfare centers and the sailors of tomorrow “vital” in order to continue to deliver quality products that give the warfighter the advantage over adversaries.
The juniors from the Naval Academy are currently interning at Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) across various departments and were accompanied by the center’s Scientific and Technical Intelligence Liaison Officer (STILO) Kenneth Conley.
“The purpose of the visit today is to expose [the midshipmen] to the broader NSWC engineering research and development capabilities, the great work Dahlgren does to support the fleet and how the Naval Surface Warfare Centers can support them in their future careers,” said Conley.
Where better to kick off a tour showcasing NSWC Dahlgren’s capabilities than its storied main range – the Potomac River Test Range? Main Range Test Manager Patrick Freemyers led the midshipmen across the range and for a walk-and-talk history lesson in which he gave a detailed overview of each weapon along the way.
From the range, the tour made its way to a conference room to hear briefs from some of Dahlgren’s best. Engineer Blake Van Winkle led the briefing on Dahlgren’s hypersonic research and development, the capability’s defensive and offensive applications and its potential uses in supporting the warfighter of
tomorrow. The midshipmen were engaged and surprised that the engineers at NSWCDD are at the forefront of the emerging technology.
The midshipmen stood as Plew entered to give his welcome and overview to the small yet eager audience. Plew explained the key technical areas that Dahlgren focuses on and stressed its commitment to a workforce that is dedicated to supporting the next Navy and the Navy after next.
Plew was careful to emphasize to the college juniors the dire need for them to take time to understand the complexity of systems they will be working with.
“It’s harder to understand and fight if you don’t comprehend the complexity,” Plew stated. “If you don’t understand the system and its complexity when you go to war or when it breaks, what will you do?”
Following the Commanding Officer’s presentation, Chris Nerney – NSWCDD technical program manager for Unmanned Systems – gave his brief on BMS before leading a tour of what he called “a mechanical engineer’s paradise.”
The midshipmen were excited to see a newly developed weapon system as well as simulations and live footage of the system in use.
“You probably don’t get to see this kind of thing in school do you?” Nerney joked.
As the tour came to a close with goodbyes and thankyous abounding, Nerney took a moment to thank the midshipmen for their willingness to serve their country.
Nerney, retired military, said “I wish I could trade places with you all right now. You all have so many great things ahead of you.”