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NEWS | Dec. 8, 2022

Profiles in Professionalism: Lt. Nathalie Behn

By Kelly Luster, NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support

Lt. Nathalie “Snap Shot” Behn, a Mechanical Engineer at Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support, spends most of her time supporting Sailors and ensuring readiness from behind the scenes at the Price Fighters Department. However, it was her time in uniform as a Navy Reserve officer that earned her the title of the 2020 Reserve Officers Association Junior Officer of the Year.

Lt. Behn was ordered to active duty to support the Navy Reserve SurgeMain Mobilization of more than 400 Sailors at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard last July. She was the SurgeMain deputy officer in charge from July 2020 to Sept. 2021.

SurgeMain is a Navy Reserve program that provides skilled depot-level maintenance professionals to Naval Shipyards during peak workload periods, timing their annual training to prepare for mobilization while adding end strength when and where it is needed—all without impacting mission funding. The SurgeMain motto, ‘Right Skills, Right Time, Right Place,’ exemplifies the value the program adds to ship maintenance through to this program. SurgeMain Sailors are ready to mobilize anytime—anywhere, to provide direct support to the fleet in their skilled trades, including electricians, welders, pipe fitters, sheet metal workers, riggers, mechanics and more.

Behn spearheaded numerous projects and programs benefitting the Navy. She helped mobilize and train her Sailors to provide measurable, effective support to Norfolk Naval Shipyard shops, departments, and ship maintenance projects. Their service improved availability schedules, added maintenance capability, increased efficiency, avoided contractor costs, and further cultivated Sailor skills in depot-level maintenance. During her time as deputy Officer in Charge (OIC), Behn helped resource five submarine availabilities, two moored training ship conversion projects, and two aircraft carrier availabilities received substantial assistance. Additionally, her engaged leadership helped her Sailors attain 450 new certifications to perform shipyard maintenance, which are unprecedented numbers.

Behn said she’s proud of her selection for this award, but she sees the recognition as a team accomplishment.

“Sure, my name is on the award, but it’s not about me. I could have not accomplished this by myself—this is a huge team effort,” she said, emphasizing NNSY’s motto ‘One Mission, One Team.’ “It’s about the support for every Sailor and getting our ships out of their shipyard maintenance availabilities and out to sea where they belong. If we don’t do our jobs, they can’t do theirs.”

Behn said she is most proud of the strong emphasis she placed on Sailor development during her tour of duty.

“We, as leaders, have an obligation to ensure every Sailor has the training they need to do their jobs safely," she said. "I sleep soundly at night because I know my Sailors are trained and ready to go at a moment’s notice to complete the mission they are qualified to do.”

During her tenure as deputy OIC, 235 SurgeMain Sailors enrolled in the Navy Afloat Maintenance Training Strategy program, with more than 150 Sailors completing core fundamentals, and at least 15 Sailors fully completing trade skills earning a Naval Enlisted Classification code. Additionally, 12 Sailors qualified as Command Pay and Personnel Admin clerks, then processed more than 4,500 travel claims.

“Lt. Behn represents the best of the Navy. She's a talented professional making the most of the opportunities in front of her, and she's always working to open avenues for her fellow Sailors to make a difference in the fleet,” said Cmdr. Mike Sullivan, Behn’s Navy Reserve commander. “She finds an opportunity to make a major contribution, formulates a plan, and charges ahead with positive energy.”

In early Jan. 2021, she was hand-selected by Rear Adm. Howard Markle, acting shipyard commander, as Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s primary docking officer — an extremely high visibility role with unmatched operational responsibility for shipyard junior officers.  As the only Reserve lieutenant at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Behn held this key leadership position for six months in addition to her deputy OIC duties.

When she’s not wearing a uniform to support the Navy, Behn is busy supporting the Navy behind the scenes as a Mechanical Engineer for NAVSUP WSS Price Fighters where she does a variety of duties including technical proposal evaluations for Performance Based Logistics contracts. Behn has performed detailed proposal evaluations, cost analyses, negotiation support, and proposal modeling for MK-99, SPY-1, MK-41 and H-53 Phase II, among many accomplishments.

“Lt. Behn’s selection as the Junior Officer of the Year is not a surprise to me,” said Rear Adm. Ken Epps, commander, NAVSUP WSS. “Our work at NAVSUP WSS is vital to ensure naval readiness. That is why we continue to attract and retain the most talented people like Nathalie Behn. Her dedication as a Sailor and civilian shipmate, exemplifies our Navy.”