Quality assurance is a process of monitoring and evaluation to determine a product or service meets specified requirements. At NNSA, it helps strengthen our Nation’s nuclear security.
Capping off a year of mission successes, two of NNSA’s Life Extension Programs (LEPs) reached major milestones in December. Quality assurance professionals Donna Riggs and Melissa Jones were on hand to mark these historic moments.
Melissa Jones stamped Federal certification on the final W76-1 nuclear weapon at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. A certifying stamp is placed on all NNSA-accepted weapons or weapon-related material that has been inspected, per the appropriate quality assurance inspection procedure.
The W76-1 LEP will extend the service life of the strategic warhead from 20 to 60 years. Pantex’s role involved final assembly, product verification and acceptance, and final shipment to the Department of Defense.
“I stamped the very first W76-1 War Reserve unit and the first Joint Test Assembly unit on this program so it’s nice to be able to close the loop by stamping the final unit,” said Jones, who began her 33 years of Federal service as a secretary and became a Quality Assurance Specialist through an upward mobility program. She plans to retire later this year.
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry thanked Jones for her service during a W76-1 ceremony at Pantex on Jan. 23.
“To be in that position as long for as you have been there, thank you for your dedication to this facility. Thank you for your patriotism to this country,” Perry said. “You’re a great example. There are young people who have started here who look to individuals like you. They see in you the goodness of what America is all about: working hard, showing up on time, getting your job done. Today you’re an example of what so many of us aspire to. Ms. Jones, thank you again for your service to this country.”
Donna Riggs performed a similar certification on the First Production Unit of the B61-12 canned sub-assembly at Y-12 National Security Complex.
She diamond stamped the canned sub-assembly as one of her final assignments as a Quality Assurance Engineer. After 36 years of ensuring all nuclear weapons components at Y-12 meet strict specifications and design requirements, Riggs also plans to retire this summer.
The B61-12 LEP will extend the life of this strategic weapon for 20 years. Y-12’s role involves the manufacture of the canned subassembly or secondary, which is shipped from Y-12 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to Pantex for final assembly.
“This is cool stuff and the capstone of my career in Oak Ridge,” Riggs said. “The act of diamond stamping certifies that the product has the pedigree that makes it worthy of going to the military.”
Only specifically-authorized individuals may apply NNSA stamps and they are required to maintain controls to safeguard the stamps against loss, theft, or use by unauthorized individuals.