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Retired admiral emphasizes importance of education, inclusion during visit to NUWC Division Newport

Retired admiral emphasizes importance of education, inclusion during visit to NUWC Division Newport

Story by Public Affairs Office on 02/27/2019

NEWPORT, R.I. Whether it was during lunch with a few dozen young professionals or during his all hands talk with the workforce, the topics of education and inclusivity permeated retired four-star admiral Cecil Haney’s visit to the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport on Feb. 14.
“If I could urge you to do one thing, it would be to continue to learn,” Haney said during the luncheon. “Don’t rest on your laurels.”

Haney’s trip coincided with NUWC Newport’s celebration of Black History Month. The retired admiral is a member of the “Centennial Seven,” which refers to the Navy’s seven African-American submarine commanders during the 20th century.

“As an African-American male, it definitely inspires me to see someone who is of the same ethnicity make it to those ranks,” Tavin Clary, an employee in NUWC Newport’s Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, said. “It lets me know that whatever you put your mind to, you can do if you keep pushing forward.”

Clary, who has worked at NUWC Newport since 2016, was among those who had lunch with Haney. The admiral began the meeting by asking each person to give a brief description of their background, including where they went to college and what they do at Division Newport.

“I’m always in awe of the various institutions people attend,” Haney said. “All the disciplines mentioned are very important in today’s environment. The work you do here is ungodly important.”

Haney followed with his best waiter impression “waiting until you have a mouth full of food to ask a question,” he joked to see what inquiries the group had for him.

A question on the best parts of his career led Haney to discuss the amount of responsibility he enjoyed having early in his career, as well as learning to function as an effective member of a team.

“I’ve seen it throughout my career, the importance of inclusivity,” Haney said. “It’s really about how does that team full of brainiacs coalesce together and come up with solutions.”

Haney also discussed some of the lessons he learned throughout his career. He cited a master chief who took him under his wing early in his career who was instrumental in his success. At the other end of the spectrum, there was another individual with whom he did not click when he was in a leadership role. At the urging of his late wife, he ultimately asked the person what was going on with him outside of work.

“He had a lot going on in his life, and I had no clue. It was a like a bell ringing to both of us. We went on to become close friends,” Haney said. “The human factor is a big deal. I encourage you to ask people, what’s going on in your life.'”

As the young professionals munched on their lunches, Haney, who had a nearly 40-year career in the Navy before retiring in 2017, offered plenty of additional food for thought.

“It’s important consider the environment in which you’ll be operating,” he said after concluding a story about leaving port in Guam while standing on the sail of a submarine with a typhoon located 400 miles away.

The types of books Haney reads was also a topic of discussion, noting that he reads professional, history and science fiction literature.

“I am a real believer in reading history because it tends to repeat itself,” Haney said. “You can read science fiction for your own enjoyment, but I find it helps to stretch your imagination to be ready for what may come.”

It was a topic, among others, that came up when Haney addressed the workforce during his presentation later in the day.

While highlighting some of the dangers this country faces from the likes of China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and others, Haney emphasized how important it is for the United States not to lose its technical and operational advantages.

“Our days of just force-on-force warfare are over. We no longer have that luxury, and we really have to think multi-domain, multi-region,” Haney said. “Any adversary or potential adversary that doesn’t like our democratic way of life will use an asymmetric way.

“Cyberspace is relatively cheap. Today, we have to worry about everything from hybrid warfare to the high-end stuff.”

Along those lines, technology needs to be used, not in the same way as we have always done, but rather to develop new concepts, Haney said. He cited Adm. Hyman G. Rickover and Adm. Elmo Zumwalt as examples of leaders who drove change during their time that we benefit from today.

To spur advancement for the next generation, Haney said, people will be critical. Specifically, Haney noted the importance of valuing and empowering everyone on a team, even those who may think or look differently than yourself.

“There were people at some point in Admiral Haney’s career that gave him an opportunity. I look back on my career, and there are many people who gave me that opportunity,” Technical Director Ron Vien said after Haney concluded his presentation.

“The work we do here really matters to our nation. Diversity and inclusion mean a lot to me. Everyone needs to feel they are part of the team to get maximum performance.”

Vien illustrated this with a story about attending the funeral for a close friend, Ken Rainey, a NUWC engineer for 34 years, which was held in 2010 at Shiloh Baptist Church in New London, Connecticut.

“I got there an hour and a half early. Ken Rainey was an African-American and a great man. The funeral was at a black Baptist church. I’m sitting there waiting and watching people come in, and it was one of the few times in my life where I was the minority,” Vien said. “I was the only person there who looked like me. I thought about how that felt. It was a weird feeling, being the only one.

“I want foster an environment where everyone in our organization feels like they belong. Look at what the Navy would have lost if Admiral Haney wasn’t afforded that opportunity. Look what this nation would have lost. Diversity and inclusion really matter to me. I need everyone to feel like they’re part of the team.”

NUWC Division Newport, part of the Naval Sea System Command, is one of two divisions of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. NUWC Division Newport’s mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures. NUWC’s other division is located in Keyport, Washington.

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