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SSP Awards Recipients of the 2024 SSP Director’s Awards, Fleet Ballistic Missile Awards & 50-Year FBM Service Awards

03 June 2024

From Shelby Thompson

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD - Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) awarded the recipients of the 2024 SSP Director’s Awards and 2024 Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Lifetime Achievement Awards at the biannual Steering Task Group Meeting Wednesday, May 22.
Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe Jr., director of Strategic Systems Programs, presented one Director’s Award, two FBM Lifetime Achievement Awards, and two 50-year FBM Service Awards. 

“It is truly my privilege to present these awards,” said Wolfe.

“As director, I am humbled every single day to work with great Americans who have made [sea based strategic deterrence] their life’s work.” 

The Director’s Awards are presented annually with the purpose of recognizing the personal contributions of the SSP government team. To date, only 46 people have received the Director’s Award, including this year’s recipients. 

The FBM Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes SSP’s industry partners who demonstrate an unparalleled degree of professionalism and excellence. To date, 113 people have received the award, including this year’s recipients. The FBM Lifetime Achievement Award is sponsored by SSP Historical, Educational and Recognition Organization (HERO), an all-volunteer 501(c) (3) Non-Profit Organization which works to promote awareness and appreciation of the partnership between government and private industry in the development and maintenance of the Navy’s FBM program. 

Highlights of each winner’s achievements demonstrating their contribution to strengthening the FBM team and upholding the standard of excellence that underpins the nation’s sea based strategic deterrent are below:

Director’s Award: Mr. John Welsh, Strategic Weapons System (SWS) Operations, Evaluations, and Training Chief Engineer, SSP

Mr. Welsh has been integral to the success of the FBM program. His steadfast leadership and vast operational and technical knowledge are constants ensuring that the highest standards of the FBM program and SSP’s equities are upheld within SP205
––the Operations, Evaluations, and Training branch––and across the fleet. He is responsible for the planning and execution of fourteen U.S. Demonstration and Shakedown Operations (DASO), five UK DASOs, four guided-missile submarine (SSGN) Shakedowns, and twenty-seven Commander’s Evaluation Tests and Follow-on Commander’s Evaluation Tests.  His desire to increase the fleet knowledge of personnel resulted in the “School of the Boat” program that covers topics ranging from the technical, programmatic, and focused leadership needs. 

FBM Lifetime Achievement Award: Ms. Annemarie Fitzgerald, General Dynamics – Mission Systems 

For more than 39 years, Ms. Fitzgerald has had an undeniable impact on the field of systems engineering within the FBM program. She was a key member of the Mk 98 team and is a founding member of the SSP team that established the process for the usability assessment of graphical user interfaces by fleet users, providing direct support to the warfighter. Among other efforts, in 2018 Ms. Fitzgerald took on a leadership role in the ballistic missile submarine (SSBN)-replacement as an Integrated Product Team lead and led the team through development and coordination of the Mk99 fire-control system design acquaintance training. 

FBM Lifetime Achievement Award: Mr. Dennis Boyé, Lockheed Martin – Rotary & Mission Systems 

For nearly four decades, Mr. Boyé has put the needs of the FBM program above all else, serving as a navigation expert in a 24/7 support status. His personal commitment ensured the team provided 100 percent fleet readiness for fourteen US SSBNs, four UK SSBNs and three Trident Training Facilities. In addition to his decades of unwavering fleet support, Mr. Boyé led efforts to relocate Trident operations from Great Neck, NY to Mitchel Field, NY, and ensure the successful relocation of laboratories and over 500 Lockheed Martin and government employees without interruption of services. 

In addition to the Director’s Award and the FBM Lifetime Achievement Awards, Wolfe also presented two 50-year FBM Service Awards, which celebrate the career-long achievements and commitments of industry and government personnel who have support the FBM program for over 50 years. 

50-Year FBM Service Award: Mr. Randy York, Arcfield 

Over the last fifty years, Mr. York has worked in support of the C4 Missile Body Design group, supported the Trident II D5 development program as a principal systems engineer, was the Weapon Systems Engineering Manager for U.S. and UK groups, and founded his own engineering practice, Randall York Engineering, in support of the FBM program. Today, York is currently at Arcfield and supports sea based strategic deterrence through technical and programmatic assessments. 

50-Year FBM Service Award: Mr. Mike Coussa, EMCUBE 

Mr. Coussa joined SSP in 1974 as a junior engineer and supported SSP’s Flight Test Operations and Facilities section and SSP’s Missile Branch until his retirement in 2003, following which he continued to support the FBM program as a subject matter expert with Northrup Grumman and EMCUBE. Many of the instrumentation and support concepts Coussa developed are still utilized today, leaving a legacy of technical excellence for the next generation of engineers. 

Additional awardees included Mr. Dan Bush, Lockheed Martin Space, who will receive the FBM Lifetime Achievement Award, and Mr. Jeff Withem, SSP, who will receive the Director’s Award. They were unable to attend the ceremony and will receive their awards in-person at a later date.

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