A Big Job: NNS Security Keeps Shipbuilders Safe

Published September 27, 2022

Last week was National Security Officer Appreciation Week. Newport News Shipbuilding’s Security force works to ensure the safety of all personnel within the facility and to protect company and U.S. Navy assets.

“Security in a facility like this is critical,” said Edward O’Donnell (O15), who has been a security officer at NNS for more than seven years. “There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that we take care of that most people in the yard probably don’t see.”

One of those lesser-known tasks is performing monthly inspections on the hundreds of shipboard fire extinguishers at NNS. While the NNS Fire Department has responsibility for fire extinguishers in buildings and within dry docks, Security handles shipboard extinguishers.

Lt. Jeff Bradley (O15) manages the three-person team that conducts the inspections in addition to their other security-related duties.

“It’s a big job and a big responsibility,” he said. “We take fire protection very seriously. The mission of my team is to instill a sense of confidence. We want employees to know that if they come upon a fire, the equipment that is there for their protection is going to work.”

O’Donnell, a Navy veteran, is one of the officers who performs inspections, during which he ensures there is no obvious physical damage, all components are intact and the extinguisher is unobstructed. For an idea of the scale, John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) alone has about 300 fire extinguishers that must be inspected monthly.

“It’s actually a pretty intensive process,” O’Donnell said. “It takes two to three days to do a ship like that.”

Bradley works closely with the NNS Fire Marshal Troy Long, who provides the list of locations that require fire extinguishers. “We have to stay on top of that. It’s ever-changing, especially on new construction vessels,” Bradley said.

O’Donnell said protecting people is the “most important aspect of the fire protection program,” and it’s everyone’s responsibility to remain vigilant.

“If you see something wrong with an extinguisher or it’s blocked, don’t just walk by,” he said. “If a fire were to break out, that equipment might save your life.”