PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION, MD – NAS Patuxent River, a critical hub for Naval Aviation Enterprise’s combat edge, has excelled in ensuring the safe handling and storage of arms, ammunition, and explosives (AA&E) material, thanks to the meticulous efforts of Explosives Safety Officer (ESO) Kim Williams.

Williams’ responsibilities as ESO include overseeing the proper training and compliance of all personnel, including tenant commands and activities, who handle or store AA&E material at NAS Patuxent River. This entails adherence to a range of regulations, including Explosives Safety Site Approvals, Standard Operating Procedures validation, periodic inspections of AA&E storage facilities, verification of equipment maintenance and weight testing, and ammunition accounting.

Regularly, Williams conducts inspection tours and meets with mission partner Explosives Safety Representatives to ensure strict compliance with safety protocols. His approach combines a commitment to following instructions and placing trust in the tenant command representatives who work alongside him.

“I work with the various tenants, including several DoD Contract Companies, by hosting monthly meetings to provide training and discuss any new or revised requirements, including changes to any manuals or directives,” Williams explained. “I also conduct a couple of Explosives Safety Self-Assessments for each command, activity, and contractor company during the year. These assessments are internal Explosives Safety Inspections, and I use various personnel from different commands and activities to get as comprehensive an assessment as possible.”

This dedication and attention to detail have yielded impressive results. NAS Patuxent River recently received a remarkable “Satisfactory” grade in the Explosives Safety Inspection held in June. The base had only 25 discrepancies, a significant reduction from the 75 discrepancies reported in 2013 before Williams assumed the ESO role. This achievement is particularly noteworthy given the scope of the Explosives Safety program at one of the largest aviation Test locations in the DoD.

“We had a few discrepancies against some of the older Explosives Safety Site Approvals, primarily in the documentation as loaded in a new database, and some documentation discrepancies in a few of the other programs,” Williams said. “There are the 10 programs that we inspected to: Explosives Safety Administration and Management, Facility Certification/Master Planning, Ammunition and Explosives Qualification/Certification and Training, Standard Operating Procedures, Ammunition and Explosives Facilities and Operations, Lightning Protection/Grounding/Emissions control, Material Potentially Presenting an Explosive Hazard/Ranges, AA&E transportation & equipment, AA&E physical security, and Ammunition and Explosives Inventory Management.”

Williams’ remarkable expertise in Explosives Safety can be attributed to his distinguished 30-year career in the Navy’s Aviation Ordnance community. Rising through the ranks to the position of retired CW04 Aviation Ordnance Officer, Williams gained valuable experience in various command assignments, including Attack, Fighter, and Strike Fighter Attack squadrons, as well as Carrier Air Wing staff, intermediate maintenance, and even Recruiting Duty. He emphasizes the significance of understanding requirements, interpreting them, and effectively working with different communities to ensure a robust safety program.

“My active duty experience has been invaluable in not only understanding requirements and knowing how to interpret them but, more importantly in how to train personnel and assess command capabilities,” said Williams.

Williams’ dedication to Explosives Safety stems from his understanding of the high stakes involved. He emphasizes the importance of getting it right first, as the consequences of mishaps in his line of work can be severe.

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘One second after a mishap, leadership and all persons affected will be asking two simple questions: what could we have done to prevent this, and why didn’t we do it,'” Williams emphasized. “Explosives Safety is a world where you don’t normally get a second chance if something goes wrong, so lives literally depend on doing it right the first time, every time.”

With Kim Williams at the helm of Explosives Safety at NAS Patuxent River, the base can rest assured that its AA&E materials are in expert hands, safeguarding the personnel and assets essential for maintaining the Naval Aviation Enterprise’s combat edge over adversaries.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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