ATHENA Northwest 2.0 Roundup and Project Pulse

By: LT Jason Kardos and LCDR Drew Barker

Athena NW 2

The ideas brewing at ATHENA NW 2.0 were as hot as the coffee! Hosted by Coffee Oasis last February, eight Navy Sailors and civilian shipyard workers presented their innovative ideas. Here is a quick rundown on the ideas and some of the progress since February:

Quick Acting Watertight Door Mechanism – MA1 Scott Grettum, USS NIMITZ

Showcasing a prototype angle bracket to modify watertight doors which would allow a Sailor to close the door with their foot, MA1 Grettum pitched that implementation of his prototype would make it easier and safer to operate a watertight door single handedly, avoiding the possibility of hand injuries which seem to plague the current design. Since his presentation he has been able to pursue the initial steps for prototype testing and obtaining a Navy patent.


 Distinguished Visitor Lecture Series – ET3 Ben Brehm, USS JOHN C. STENNIS

ET3 Ben Brehm, also a cofounder of Athena NW, proposed a distinguished visitor lecture series onboard ships to expose Sailors to new perspectives and ideas that will impact their ability to lead. Explaining how distinguished visitors frequent aircraft carriers, he pointed out how the ingredients are already in place to inspire Sailors to take their leadership to the next level. Since the event his idea floated to the Commanding Officer and Pacific Fleet’s Chief of Innovation. After a meeting with the public affairs officer onboard the Stennis, they have plans for the first trail run at the next in-port opportunity!


 Zone Inspection Reality Gap – CTR2 Michael Alvarado and CTT3 Brandon Jeanpaul, USS NIMITZ

Admirably attacking the disparity between what should be and actual practice when it comes to zone inspections, CTR2 Michael Alvarado and CTT3 Brandon Jeanpaul sought support for a collaborative solution to more efficiently fix material discrepancies in the Fleet. They proposed a policy change that will enhance the zone inspection procedures onboard Navy ships. Recently, their idea was presented to and gained support from the NIMITZ CO, XO and CMC. NIMITZ is taking a deeper look at the problem and solutions presented. A group of supporters from the USS JOHN C. STENNIS are looking forward to the next opportunity to meet with them and apply some design thinking in order to drum up some proposed solutions.


 Alternative for Emergency Escape Breathing Devices – LT Daniel Conley, USS NIMITZ

LT Daniel Conley proposed exchanging the Emergency Escape Breathing Devices (EEBD) and the chemical biological and radiological (CBR) gas masks (also known as MCU-2P Mask, Chemical Uniform Number 2P) for the Self Contained Breathing Apraratus (SCBA) masks used for firefighting. The consolidation would dramatically reduce the purchase cost, maintenance, training, and storage requirements by eliminating two of the three masks currently used onboard the ship. Conley argued that the SCBA masks are capable and arguably better suited to replace EEBD and CBR masks. The incorporation of a single mask capable of attaching various accessories to serve each of the above functions could be phased into Navy service as older units expire and simplify the supply needs by having a universal mask. Furthermore, the SCBA masks equip the Sailor to engage in firefighting faster, enhancing the damage control response. To save the Navy money based on inventory costs alone, an attachment to connect the SCBA to a small canister of spare air must be fashioned for less than $200 apiece. Sounds totally doable! We are looking to connect him with someone who can help prototype his connecting piece, anyone with connections interested in supporting email


 Navy Knowledge Share – LCDR Andrew Young, USS JOHN C. STENNIS

LCDR Young would like to combine the benefits of YouTube, Facebook, and Kahn Academy into a single knowledge sharing platform. One of the greatest frustrations Sailors experience involves attempting a repetitive task as though it were never previously attempted. This “re-inventing the wheel” is a result of the high turnover of personnel. To combat those frustrations LCDR Young proposed a video based and open-sourced training platform. He sought to expand idea-sharing and allow communities within the Navy to collaborate on experiences and best practices. Since his presentation he has been exposed to MilSuite – a product that fits the description of his idea very well. Check out MilSuite at One note about MilSuite is that there aren’t many people using it yet. That may be due in part to advertising and integration or it may be frustrations with its use – try it out and offer your feedback to the site creators to help take LCDR Young’s idea to the next level! One final note on MilSuite, the site hosts “eureka” where you can see other ideas to improve the Navy and weigh in on which are your favorite – check it out!


Open Market for Ship’s Store Purchases – ENS Charles Kijek, USS JOHN C. STENNIS

ENS Kijek’s goal was to save the Sailors over one million dollars by utilizing open purchase options to stock the ship’s store. His idea requires a policy change to permit open purchase for non-mission essential items. Purchasing Ship’s Store supplies from open purchase vendors would increase variety, change minimum quantity ordering requirements, allow faster delivery, reduce and/or eliminate shipping costs, and reduce time to get newer items onto the shelf. As a result Sailor demand could better dictate store items and eliminate waste due to unwanted items not selling. Since his presentation his idea was vetted by the Stennis Supply Officer who will get some visibility when Navy Supply Command visits the ship next month! Additionally an investigation is open to see if the Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) contingent onboard could take over the Ship’s store in order to change the governing requirements.


 Rapid and Accurate Radiography Setup for Hull Penetrations – Mr. Michael O’Connell, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

Mr. Michael O’Connel, PSNS & IMF Navy civilian (and retired CPO), presented a prototype that would improve the accuracy, efficiency and setup time required to perform radiography of ship hull penetrations. The design incorporated improvements to current manually positioned radiography ‘camera’ supports. The features include an easy to rotate pivot mount with snap locking positions and matching indicators for the operator to know the position from within and outside the hull of the ship simultaneously. Mr. O’Connell’s well developed prototype and well researched cost to benefit analysis swept the crowd, earning him the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage. He gained the support of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for additional testing and implementation at every shipyard that conducts hull maintenance on hull penetrations. So far his prototype has been tested twice and further refined in preparation for implementation. Mr. O’Connell spoke to his goal of “showing the people he works with that there are ways to make improvements and not to give up and settle with the way things are.” He wants everyone to have a voice in process improvement.

The Athena NW 2.0 Admiral Sims Award Winner!

The Athena NW 2.0 Admiral Sims Award Winner!

Shipboard Operational and Maintenance Manning Rotation –  John S., USS JOHN C. STENNIS

Advocating a simple change to the human resource practices to imitate the current system used by Navy Seals and Special Forces, John S. focused on building proficiency in mission critical skills during every tour, bolstering proficiency and creating a generation of Sailors so skilled that innovation and improvement becomes natural. He argued that Special Forces become so proficient at their mission critical skill sets that after several tours they have the capacity to improve, where other Sailors typically do shore tours that don’t involve building on their mission critical skill sets, and they return to sea far less proficient, often having to re-learn the basics. His goal would be to create experts performing duties that they have truly mastered and supervisors that are incredibly knowledgeable about all the processes under their cognizance. Since the event he has tailored his idea to specific rates where gaps in proficiency cost the Navy the most. Looking forward to a white-paper addressed to the Chief of Navy Personnel.

ATHENA Northwest 3.0!

Don’t get too comfortable, Athena NW 3.0 will be here soon and bring an exciting change to the forum. Our attendees (who also serve as the judges) will rotate from one presenter to the next in small groups. Like a tech expo or science fair each presenter will have an opportunity to present their idea several times over allowing their presentation to evolve along with the event. After a five minute pitch they will have three minutes for questions before audience members will rotate to the next presenter. At the end everyone will vote by placing a token in the presenter’s box that did the best based on the scoring criteria.

Join us for ATHENA NW 3.0 from 9 to 11:30am this May 15th at the Chief’s Club below Sam Adams restaurant on Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton. Welcoming all who seek improvements in the Navy, anyone can register to attend this free event by signing up at Catch event updates and presentation teasers by finding us on Facebook: or visiting the Athena Blog:

See you there!

LT Jason Kardos is the Air Logistics Officer onboard USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN-74). He is an integral part of the ATHENA Northwest Council and consistently strives to gain efficiencies in administration practices through the management of the ship’s SharePoint site. His goal is to one day merge and streamline the use of the myriad of database content used in Navy administration.

Don’t forget! Waterfront Athena Seven is coming up on April 24th in San Diego! What’s your big idea?



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