Wolfson takes helm of Norfolk Naval Shipyard as its first female commander


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Captain Dianna Wolfson became the first ever woman to command Norfolk Naval Shipyard in its 253-history when she took the reins on Friday.

Wolfson, who has an extensive resume, was part of the Navy’s initial groups of female surface nuclear officers in the 1990s and also the first ever female commander of any of the country’s four public shipyards when she took command of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in 2019.

This will be her third stop at NNSY, with previous duties as an operations officer and project superintendent for the USS Newport News (SSN 750) overhaul, NNSY said in a press release. She is the 110th commander in NNSY history.

The shipyard says she’ll be focused on improving four key areas: leadership performance, organizational culture, employee development, and mission execution. 

“One phrase I will use often because I truly believe in its importance is ‘One Mission, One Team,’” said Wolfson. “We have one mission—to forge every opportunity to preserve our national security and gain a competitive advantage to be the shipyard our Navy needs through our exceptional, safe, timely and cost-conscious delivery of our warships. Together, we are in the mission of relentlessly chasing best performance in the stewardship of our nation’s naval assets.”

Departing Shipyard Commander Rear Admiral Howard Markle says Wolfson is the right leader as the shipyard enters a transition period, which includes upgrading facilities for the Naval Sea Systems Command’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program.

“Her deep sense of care and commitment to our Navy and the NNSY workforce will be at the forefront of meeting the shipyard’s priorities of developing our people and delivering on our mission.” 

Wolfson says her first priorities include improving communication and culture.

“I believe in the mantra that ‘if you take care of your people, they’ll take care of you,’” she said.  “I think the ‘people piece’ of the business is so important because it’s the people who do the work.  It’s the people who make change.  It’s the people who drive results.  I want our workforce to hear that directly from me, to know I value each one of you and will strive every day to make sure you feel valued.”

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