An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Jan. 4, 2024

Profiles in Professionalism: Lt. Cmdr. Mellany George

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erik Melgar

Lt. Cmdr. Mellany George, from Birmingham Ala., found her passion for engineering in the Boy Scouts of America Exploring Program at 14 years old. Since then, she graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science in Fiber and Polymer Engineering in 2005. She then joined the Navy as a Reserve Engineering Duty Officer and is now the commanding officer of SurgeMain (Surge Maintenance) Nashville. In her civilian career, works as a Mission Assurance Engineer at Northrop Grumman Corporation.
As commanding officer (CO) of SurgeMain Nashville, she is responsible for more than 60 Sailors, who are specialized in the maintenance and engineering rates of the Navy. As the CO, she leads them in their training and manages their qualifications and administrative needs. She also manages where they will be sent to support Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY). In November, she spent a week at NNSY, working alongside her Sailors and observing their work at several machine shops around the base.
SurgeMain took part in a historic mobilization at all four public shipyards during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 due to around 25% of the shipyard workforce being sent home for high-risk health concerns.  SurgeMain Sailors were able to fill that gap in the workforce, but it took time for them to get fully trained and gain the trust of the shipyard workers who remained.  One of the major lessons learned from that mobilization was to have each Surgemain unit be attached to just one shipyard (SurgeMain Nashville is now a detachment of NNSY).  Now, Sailors focus on getting fully trained and qualified at one or two shops and then work alongside the maintenance teams on-site. SurgeMain now has one shipyard where they qualify and maintain a working relationship, allowing for smoother integration between the Sailor and the production shop, especially in times of emergency.
“When my Sailors go through orientation at the shipyard, they start with the new employee orientation class, for example,” said George. “That way, they are seen less as ‘substitutes’ and more so as ‘employees’ like everyone else who comes to work at the shipyard. They can pick up work where someone else may have left off without any wasted time learning the ins-and-outs of the shop, and it creates a sense of camaraderie between the SurgeMain Sailors and shipyard workers who are there full time.”
When asked about why she wanted to join the military, she explained that her father was a police officer in her hometown. Seeing him work hard and put his life on the line to defend and maintain safety in the community inspired her.
“My father is a positive man, and he believes that the world is generally good,” she said. “He saw a lot of the bad things people could do but that didn’t stop him from being optimistic and that inspired me. I wanted to be part of the good he saw in the world and defend our freedom on a larger scale.”
One of George’s favorite experiences in the Navy thus far was her time with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, Africa, from Sept. 2018 to Sept. 2019. There, as a Humanitarian Assistance Program Manager with the CJ-44 Engineers, she managed an average of $3.5 million of Humanitarian Assistance/Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HA/HCA) construction projects for CTJF-HOA. They built schools, medical clinics, libraries, and other infrastructure for several communities throughout Djibouti, and provided aid to more than 1500 students and 3349 clinic outpatients as well as clean water for a community of more than 700 people. George coordinated with the local community to ensure the work they did together would last long after she left.
“I noticed that in the past, when we would work with the host countries we would build buildings our way, using only our resources,” said George. “That way, we didn’t consider the climate and what the locals have available to them. I wanted to make sure we included them and followed their ways of building to make sure our help would last for a long time. Construction isn’t the type of engineering I’m used to, but it was fulfilling to work with everyone and see the fruits of our labor in such a direct way. I may not work in construction again, but it was a wonderful experience I’ll never forget.”
In her civilian career at Northrup Grumman, George works as a Mission Assurance Engineer, serving as a liaison between Northrop Grumman and their DoD customer during various critical increments of development and production of missile targets, ensuring mission and quality assurance.
George has plenty of responsibilities and several workloads on her plate as a commanding officer, a mother, and in her civilian job. She can juggle all this due partly to her support system, her husband Robert, her family, and her twin sister, Lt. Cmdr. Melody George-Jones.
George and George-Jones always considered themselves a pair and pursued almost all their life goals together. They studied engineering together at Auburn, the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB), worked at the Missile Defense Agency, and were commissioned into the Navy together as Reserve Engineering Duty Officers through the Navy Reserve Direct Commission Officer Program. Currently, they work at the Northrop Grumman Corporation, though they are in different departments, working on different missile systems.
“I know a lot of people find it interesting, but to me, I’ve always had my sister do everything with me, we shared a room, went to college together, and worked together. It was natural.”
George and her sister were among several women recently honored at Auburn University for 100 years of women in the engineering program. George is proud to be recognized by the college and hopes to inspire people who may want to follow a similar career path.
Influential leaders in history tend to be seen as pillars that stand alone, but George believes that good leaders are surrounded by people, gaining insight and trust from different walks of life and experiences. She recognizes the potential in her Sailors and looks after them, lifting them and giving her Sailors the opportunities to grow.
“I love the saying ‘lift as you climb,” said George. “As I climb my career ladder, I want to help someone else behind me fulfill their potential.”