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A leader from the the Kenneth A. Kesselring Site leads NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Adm. James F. Caldwell, Jr., and Naval Reactors personnel on a walking tour of the site.
A leader from the the Kenneth A. Kesselring Site leads NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Adm. James F. Caldwell, Jr., and Naval Reactors personnel on a walking tour of the site.

Administrator Gordon-Hagerty travels to meet with NNSA’s naval nuclear propulsion experts

WASHINGTON – On Oct. 15, Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and U.S. Department of Energy’s Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, visited two sites within the Naval Nuclear Laboratory Enterprise. 

One of NNSA’s three mission pillars is to provide the U.S. Navy with safe, militarily-effective naval nuclear propulsion plants, supporting both submarines and aircraft carriers. This mission is executed through the Naval Reactors program, which has joint leadership from both NNSA and the Department of Defense. Admiral James F. Caldwell Jr. serves as both the NNSA Deputy Administrator for Naval Reactors and as a four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy.  Admiral Caldwell accompanied Administrator Gordon-Hagerty on her site visit.

Personnel from the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory speak with NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty during a tour of the site.
Personnel from the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory speak with NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty during a tour of the site.

“The public may not realize how deep our connection with the Department of Defense goes,” Administrator Gordon-Hagerty said. “NNSA’s work on naval nuclear propulsion highlights how integrated we really are. I have been looking forward to visiting the Naval Nuclear Laboratory Enterprise led so capably by Admiral Caldwell, and I remain extremely impressed by the advancements I saw today.”

Their first stop was the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory outside Schenectady, New York. Knolls is a research and engineering facility, tasked with the mission of developing the most advanced naval nuclear propulsion technology and providing technical support for the continued safe and reliable operation of all existing naval reactors. At the Laboratory, the Administrator received an update on reactor fuel and material technology advances that enable Navy submarines to have life-of-the ship reactor cores and aircraft carrier reactor cores that safely steam for more than 1,000,000 miles without refueling, enabling cost savings. The Administrator was also briefed on the evolution of critical Navy systems, including the latest reactor plant control systems for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. This replacement for the Ohio-class submarine is the Navy’s highest priority acquisition project.

Naval Nuclear Laboratories personnel greet NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty and Adm. James F. Caldwell Jr. at the Kenneth A. Kesselring Site.
Naval Nuclear Laboratories personnel greet NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty and Adm. James F. Caldwell Jr. at the Kenneth A. Kesselring Site.

The tour then moved on to the Kesselring Site, located in West Milton, New York.

Since the 1950s, the Site has operated a total of five reactor plants that have served as both hands-on training platforms for the Navy fleet of nuclear-trained personnel and test-beds, where new nuclear technologies can be evaluated in an actual operating reactor plant. Today, the S8G Prototype land-based reactor is undergoing a refueling overhaul that will recapitalize the prototype for an additional 20 years of service to maintain vital research and testing capabilities and continue its training mission. During the Administrator’s visit, she observed simulation technology for training Navy personnel and received an update on construction projects, as well as the S8G Prototype refueling overhaul.

“It was a pleasure to show the Administrator the energy and enthusiasm of the highly talented workforce at the Naval Nuclear Laboratory,” Admiral Caldwell said. “Their support of the U.S. nuclear-powered fleet enables our ships to achieve a tremendous asymmetric warfighting advantage.”

Follow the Administrator on Twitter at @LGHNNSA to keep up with her travels.