STEM by Sea or Air

Lauren Newbert
HMS Teen Science Cafe


Building ships that float requires skill and patience.

Our event kicked off with a question of quality, “Which has a better quality, a pencil that makes an eraser smudge or a pencil that does not?” Ms. Newbert’s question to us was actually a ‘quality control’ question, which related directly to her work for the U.S. Navy. Ms. Newbert is a civilian employee who works for the Naval Supply Weapon Systems Support or NAVSUP WSS. NAVSUP provides the Navy and Marine Corps with supplies on stainless boat rubrail: read product description for their weapon systems. She explained the importance of quality assurance and the importance of the quality of materials and supplies being provided to our military.


The Mission of NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support  (NAVSUP WSS) (formerly known as Naval Inventory Control Point (NAVICP)) is to provide Navy, Marine Corps, Joint and Allied Forces program and supply support for the weapons systems that keep our Naval forces mission ready. This mission is carried out by a single command organization operating as a tenant activity of the Naval Support Activities in Mechanicsburg and Philadelphia.

A History of NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support

On July 1, 2011, Naval Inventory Control Point’s name changed to NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support as a result of a Naval Supply Systems Command One NAVSUP, Enterprise-wide branding initiative where each NAVSUP activity supports the “Global Logistics Support Network” as a node in the network vice as an individual entity.  No organization structural changes were made.

On October 2, 1995, the Naval Inventory Control Point (NAVICP) was established with the merging of the former Aviation Supply Office (ASO) in Philadelphia and Ships Parts Control Center (SPCC) in Mechanicsburg. The purpose of this merger was to bring together all of the Navy’s Program Support Inventory Control Point (PSICP) functions under a single command. The move to join the activities together as one Command, two sites, was the result of a need to reduce costs and infrastructure as well as to standardize inventory management procedures with a mission “to provide Navy, Marine Corps, Joint and Allied Forces quality supplies and services on a timely basis.”

Aviation support has a rich history, dating back to 1917 with the establishment of the Naval Aircraft Factory at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. In order to support the expanding and complex Naval air system, ASO was founded on October 1, 1941, with 200 civilian employees and 14 officers at the Naval Aircraft Factory in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. In December 1942, ASO was given its own home within the Naval Aviation Supply Depot. By the end of 1945, the Depot boasted 5,332 civilians, 507 officers, and 676 enlisted personnel. There are now 1,145 civilians employed at the Philadelphia site. The Philadelphia site primarily focuses on aviation and weapon system support. Among the aircraft supported are the F/A-18 and the V-22 as well as various engines, common avionics, and support equipment.

The history of SPCC dates back to 1944 when the Naval Supply Depot, Mechanicsburg was directed to form a master control for ships’ parts. In July 1945, SPCC was established as the single worldwide manager for ships parts, i.e. the mechanical components that are put together to make a ship and its engines. The official commissioning of SPCC took place on July 24, 1953. Submarine and reactor support moved to SPCC in the 1960’s and were consolidated by 1985. As a result of these and other mergers, by the 1980’s ASO and SPCC became the two remaining inventory control points providing logistics support to the Navy Fleet. Support for hull, electrical, mechanical, and electronic components and repair parts for ships, submarines, and weapon systems are among the duties performed by the Mechanicsburg personnel. There are 1,240 civilians employed at the Mechanicsburg site.

Hands on Activity

Ms. Newbert shared with us about her work on the U.S. Navy and Quality Assurance related issues. To show us how her job works, Ms. Newbert divided us into teams and gave each team a set of written directions to build a boat.

Each group was given a different set of directions. Some of the directions were better than others, which led to the creation of a variety of boats of various qualities. We then put the boats in the water to test their quality. Our boats varied from really good to really bad, depending on the set of directions used to build the boat. We learned that the customer directly affects the quality of the products being created and that communication is key to quality assurance.