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NNSA Achievements: 2015 by the Numbers

VIDEO: 2015 by the numbers

How did we perform this year? What did we accomplish?

NNSA’s nuclear security enterprise – including its laboratories, production facilities, and sites – provides unique technical solutions to solve the national security challenges of today and the future. In 2015, in addition to the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan and Prevent, Counter, and Respond – A Strategic Plan to Reduce Global Nuclear Threats, NNSA released a new Strategic Vision, which detailed the organization’s enduring and essential responsibilities:



  • Maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile for as long as nuclear weapons exist;
  • Prevent, counter, and respond to evolving and emerging threats of nuclear proliferation and terrorism; and,
  • Provide the design and development support to equip U.S. Navy vessels with nuclear propulsion plants and ensure their safe and reliable operations.

NNSA must maintain capabilities that support each of these missions, including advancing world-class science, technology, and engineering (ST&E); supporting its people and modernizing its infrastructure; and, developing a management culture that promotes a safe and secure nuclear enterprise.

This report highlights NNSA’s many achievements in 2015.


NNSA supports the Nation’s strategic deterrent by maintaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile, in accordance with Administration policy and without underground nuclear explosive testing. The Stockpile Stewardship Program, now in its 21st year, ensures NNSA’s ongoing ability to sustain the stockpile now and into the future.

In 2015, NNSA continued to maintain the current stockpile while also laying the foundation for the future deterrent by making substantial progress on important Life Extension Programs (LEPs) and in modernizing the nuclear complex to respond to current and future challenges.

NNSA Life Extension Programs (LEP)

W76-1 LEP

NNSA has surpassed the halfway mark in producing W76-1 life-extended warheads for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile fleet. When the LEP is completed in 2019, the warhead will have been given an additional 30 years of service life, and the total quantity of the W76s in the stockpile will be reduced by almost 50 percent.

B61-12 LEP

NNSA continued to make impressive progress in its effort to extend the life of the B61-12 gravity bomb. The LEP will add at least 20 years to the life of the system, and it will enable NNSA to consolidate four variants of the B61 into one. This LEP will allow the Nation to cut in half the number of air-delivered gravity bombs in the stockpile and allow for the retirement of the last megaton class weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This past year was particularly noteworthy as NNSA and the U.S. Air Force completed three highly successful developmental flight tests. The program remains on budget and on schedule for delivery of the first production unit in 2020.

W80-4 LEP

In 2015, the Nuclear Weapons Council decided to accelerate the schedules for both the Air Force’s Long Range Standoff (LRSO) system and its associated warhead to meet Department of Defense requirements. NNSA is now evaluating design options for the LEP and remains committed to producing the first production unit in 2025.

W88 ALT 370 with Conventional High Explosives Refresh

NNSA made considerable progress on another of the warheads for the Navy’s submarine-launched ballistic missile fleet, the W88,  including aligning the scope of the original alteration program with the replacement of the warheads’ conventional high explosive. Notable accomplishments this year included successfully completing numerous engineering tests, as well as a flight test of key components.

Science, Technology, and Engineering Supporting the Weapons Stockpile

Maintaining the nuclear deterrent and ensuring NNSA accomplishes all of its nuclear-related missions requires an unparalleled science, technology, and industrial base. This base includes the three NNSA laboratories, four NNSA production facilities, and the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). It also includes several other DOE laboratories that make highly important, ongoing contributions to NNSA’s work.

Extraordinary science underpins everything NNSA does, including the core responsibility to certify the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear stockpile. Through science-based stockpile stewardship, NNSA has fielded a suite of innovative experimental platforms, diagnostic equipment, high-performance computers, and modern codes that build on past nuclear explosive test data to simulate the dynamics of nuclear weapons. This past year, NNSA leveraged its world-class facilities to perform experiments yielding critical information to support modeling and simulation efforts:

National Ignition Facility (NIF)NNSA capitalized on recent efficiency improvements at the NIF at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to achieve an unprecedented number of experiments with 356 laser shots in support of the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP). This level of effort represents an 85 percent increase over last year and an 18 percent increase over its goal for 2015. Four of these were first-of-a-kind shock physics experiments exploring dynamic properties of plutonium that have never been investigated, further improving our understanding of the stockpile.

Z MachineThis year the Z Machine – the world’s most powerful pulsed power device – conducted the 17th dynamic compression experiment using plutonium at Sandia National Laboratories. The important data generated in this, and previous, experiments, will improve the understanding of material properties of plutonium under extreme pressures and temperatures that will inform decisions on pit reuse in warhead LEPs.

Supercomputing NNSA took major steps with high performance computing to deliver on its missions and support the President’s Executive Order to lead on exascale computing. Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories received the first hardware delivery for NNSA’s next generation high performance computer Trinity. Trinity will have at least eight times more applications performance than Cielo, the current NNSA supercomputer, and it will be one of the most advanced computers in the world. In 2015, NNSA also continued its “CORAL” collaboration with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the DOE Office of Science national laboratories at Oak Ridge and Argonne, IBM, and other vendors that is intended to develop next generation computing platforms to dramatically improve the ability to run increasingly complex codes. CORAL will be a significant step on the path to exascale computing.

Insights gained from these experiments and computational simulations will be used to validate weapons models and inform design and engineering decisions in support of future LEPs and the annual certification process.

Strengthening NNSA’s partnership with the United Kingdom

NNSA continued to strengthen its partnership with the United Kingdom by approving a suite of strategic collaborations intended to strengthen our cooperation in key areas, including a UK-led, U.S.-supported team dedicated to the design and development of a series of joint technology demonstrations. NNSA also initiated an improvement in secure U.S.-UK communication capabilities to further enhance collaboration.

20 Years of Successful Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship

This year, NNSA commemorated the 20th anniversary of the highly successful Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP). For two decades, the efforts of some of the world’s best scientists and engineers using extraordinary tools at NNSA’s national laboratories have allowed the Nation to maintain confidence in the nuclear deterrent without nuclear explosive testing. Many were skeptical that this accomplishment was possible in 1995. The investment in SSP has enabled resolution of many stockpile issues and provided more detailed knowledge than could have been attained through nuclear explosive testing. With this history and a commitment to revitalize the infrastructure, NNSA is actively ensuring its capabilities to deliver another 20 years of SSP success.



NNSA’s second core mission is reducing global nuclear dangers by preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons or weapons-usable materials, countering efforts to acquire such weapons or materials, and responding to nuclear or radiological incidents. In 2015, NNSA reorganized its nonproliferation activities based on core competencies and realigned its counterterrorism and counterproliferation functions to more efficiently address both current and emerging threats and challenges. The reorganization accompanied the March 2015 release of the first ever Prevent, Counter, and Respond – A Strategic Plan to Reduce Global Nuclear Threats. This report, which NNSA will update annually, highlights key nuclear threat trends and describes NNSA’s integrated threat reduction strategy.

Guided by its strategic goals, NNSA made significant progress in nuclear threat reduction in 2015:

Achieving Permanent Threat Reduction

NNSA minimizes and, when possible, eliminates weapons-usable nuclear material around the world. In 2015, NNSA worked with foreign partners to remove approximately 130 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium from several civilian sites, including Kazakhstan, Switzerland, and Uzbekistan. As a result, Uzbekistan and Switzerland are now included in a total of 28 countries, plus Taiwan, free of all HEU through the work of NNSA. In 2015, NNSA successfully down-blended additional HEU to achieve a cumulative total of 150 metric tons of U.S. excess, weapons-usable HEU – approximately 6,000 nuclear weapons worth of material.

NNSA also worked with foreign partners to convert Jamaica’s Safe LOW-POwer Kritical Experiment (SLOWPOKE) reactor from HEU to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel and removed all HEU from China’s Miniature Neutron Source Reactor in preparation for conversion in early 2016.

Securing, Protecting, and Accounting for Nuclear and Radiological Materials

NNSA made significant progress in the effort to secure radiological materials worldwide, successfully recovering more than 100,000 curies of disused or orphaned radioactive material, and completing security enhancements at 80 international and 50 domestic buildings, ensuring the United States remains on track to fulfill the commitments made at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit.

Reducing Nuclear Proliferation Risks

NNSA helps strengthen nuclear safeguards, export controls, and nonproliferation and arms control regimes to reduce proliferation risks. In 2015, NNSA supported the Secretary of Energy’s efforts to develop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by providing scientific expertise and technical options to the United States negotiating team in the P5+1 process. The resulting diplomatic solution ensures Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful. JCPOA nuclear-related measures will be monitored and verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Department of Energy and NNSA will continue to play a significant role in implementing the JCPOA, including through long-established programs to support the IAEA with training, technology, and staffing for the safeguards mission.

NNSA also provided technical advice to the Secretary of Energy and served on the U.S. delegation responsible for negotiating Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreements with China and the Republic of Korea, and concluded a three-year comprehensive revision of CFR 810, the regulations that govern the transfer of nuclear technology and assistance abroad.

Advancing Capabilities to Detect Foreign Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and Nuclear Detonations

NNSA’s experimental developments advanced nonproliferation and arms control treaty and agreement implementation by improving U.S. abilities to detect and identify low-yield nuclear explosions. In 2015, NNSA conducted the fourth Source Physics Experiment at NNSS, one in a series of seven underground, high-explosive field tests designed to improve U.S. ability to detect underground nuclear explosions.

Together with the U.S. Air Force, NNSA launched three sensor suites for nuclear explosion monitoring on GPS satellites to ensure that the United States maintains its capability to detect any above-ground nuclear explosion.

Countering Efforts of State and Non-State Actors to Obtain a Nuclear or Radiological Threat Device

NNSA’s nuclear counterterrorism and counterproliferation activities develop the scientific and technical understanding required to detect and defeat the range of nuclear devices potentially available to a non-state actor. NNSA develops the strategies and plans that would be used if non-state actors obtain nuclear materials or devices. NNSA’s 2015 trainings contributed to a cumulative total of 11,146 domestic and foreign officials trained in weapons of mass destruction counterterrorism. In conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, NNSA conducted eight WMD counterterrorism exercises for U.S. Federal, state and local officials, and law enforcement and first responders. NNSA also conducted bilateral and multilateral training activities with more than 3,500 participants from 53 countries. NNSA provided radiation detection capabilities to more than 46 countries and assisted with radiation overexposure incidents, source recovery operations, emergency operations center connectivity, and equipment and technical support for major public events, including the Papal visit and the Super Bowl.

Responding to Nuclear or Radiological Terrorist Attacks, or Unintended Incidents

NNSA led the Department’s all-hazards enterprise-wide approach to strengthen emergency preparedness and response capabilities across the spectrum of incidents, (e.g., adverse weather, earthquakes) and from human actions (e.g., accidents, sabotage, terrorism), and developed the concept of operations for the DOE Consolidated Emergency Operations Center.

NNSA’s technical and operational capabilities are fully prepared to respond if a nuclear or radiological incident occurs anywhere in the world. During 2015, NNSA emergency response teams participated in three domestic and three international large-scale interagency counterterrorism exercises, including the first full Federal-participation nuclear power plant exercise in more than 20 years. NNSA provided nuclear subject matter expertise to support security operations during the September papal visit, responded to two real world recovery operations, and provided 1,355 assessments for first responders nationwide during exercises, drills, and communication tests.


NNSA’s third mission pillar is supporting the U.S. Navy’s ability to protect and defend American interests across the globe. The Naval Reactors Program remains at the forefront of technological developments in naval nuclear propulsion and ensures a commanding edge in warfighting capabilities by advancing new technologies and improvements in naval reactor performance and reliability. In 2015, the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program pioneered advances in nuclear reactor and warship design – such as increasing reactor lifetimes, improving submarine operational effectiveness, and reducing propulsion plant crewing.

The Naval Reactors Program continued its record of operational excellence by providing the technical expertise required to resolve emergent issues in the Nation’s nuclear-powered fleet, enabling the Fleet to safely steam more than two million miles. Naval Reactors safely maintains, operates, and oversees the reactors on the Navy’s 82 nuclear-powered warships, constituting more than 45 percent of the Navy’s major combatants.

Guided by its strategic goals, NNSA made significant progress within the Naval Reactors Program in 2015:

Designing, Refueling, and Decommissioning Projects

OHIO-class ReplacementThe Naval Reactors Program will provide the U.S. Navy with an S1B reactor plant design to satisfy the requirements of the next-generation ballistic missile submarine by 2027. This reactor will be a life-of-the-ship core, eliminating costly mid-life refueling, increasing operational availability, and enabling the U.S. Navy to sustain the sea-based leg of the strategic deterrent mission. The OHIO-class Replacement submarines will provide strategic deterrent capabilities well into the 2080s.

S8G Prototype RefuelingThe Naval Reactors Program is currently working on plans to refuel the S8G land-based prototype reactor, to include removing spent nuclear fuel, replacing it with a new nuclear core and safely and securely transporting the spent fuel offsite. By 2018, the program will begin to refuel and overhaul the S8G land-based prototype, which will preserve a critical research and development asset that provides a cost-effective test and evaluation platform for new technologies, materials, and components before introduction into the fleet.

USS ENTERPRISE Decommissioning Projects – As part of the inactivation process, the Naval Reactors Program assisted with hazardous material removal from the USS ENTERPRISE, among other preparations, in anticipation of dismantlement and recycling in 2016.

GERALD R. FORD Reactor Plants

The first USS GERALD R. FORD next generation aircraft carrier nuclear reactor plant achieved initial criticality in support of sea trials early in 2016. The FORD reactor plants will provide more generating capability and require fewer Reactor Department Sailors to operate. When she is finally commissioned in 2016, the FORD’s reactors will generate 250 percent more electrical capacity than in today’s NIMITZ Class carriers. The GERALD R. FORD is slated to be delivered in 2016 as the force structure replacement for USS ENTERPRISE that was inactivated in 2012. Each FORD-class carrier will save the Navy $4 billion in total ownership cost over its 50-year service life.

USS NAUTILUS 60th Anniversary

In January, the Naval Reactors Program helped celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the commissioning of USS NAUTILUS and the birth of the nuclear Navy.  NAUTILUS led to the all-nuclear-power U.S. submarine force of today. In the 60 years since NAUTILUS, her successors have embodied the very best in American engineering, ship design, and construction, keeping the U.S. Navy’s submarines the best in the world.


NNSA accomplishes its missions by advancing world-class science, technology, and engineering; supporting our people and modernizing our infrastructure; and developing a management culture that promotes a safe and secure enterprise. NNSA has made steady progress during the past year in addressing leadership, management, and cultural challenges. These and other accomplishments are detailed in “NNSA Comments on the Final Report of the Governance Advisory Panel of the Nuclear Security Enterprise.”

As part of emphasis on the management crosscuts highlighted in the Strategic Vision document, NNSA has been systematically restructuring its programs and operations at headquarters. In addition to the realignments in the prevent, counter and respond mission space, NNSA stood up the new Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations to ensure a safe, effective, efficient, and sustainable nuclear security enterprise. NNSA established the Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation to provide independent cost estimates and program analysis on all aspects of the enterprise, leading to better mission planning, budgeting, and performance. NNSA also established an Office of Policy to take a deep look at its government-contractor philosophy and processes, as well as other governance initiatives. The Office of Policy is working with the DOE/NNSA Governance and Management Steering Committee to address issues including:

  • Enhancing the Federal/contractor site governance and oversight process;
  • Applying staffing analysis and planning processes across DOE to address recruitment, training, and qualification programs; career and leadership development; and succession planning; and
  • Implementing mutually beneficial improvements to all seven management and operations contracts and their contractor performance evaluation plans and processes.

Modernizing Infrastructure

Much of NNSA’s infrastructure dates back to the days of the Manhattan Project, has exceeded its useful life, and is in need of substantial repair or replacement. Building a responsive infrastructure means investing wisely in new facilities – especially for plutonium, uranium, tritium (at Savannah River Site), and other “commodities” as well as high explosives, non-nuclear component production, and much needed office and laboratory workspace for our personnel. To this end, NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations is modernizing its facilities management systems to reflect industry- and government-wide best management practices. These improved systems include an award-winning project/program management tool, an instrument to enable risk-informed facility investment practices based on actual engineering condition assessments, and a program that allows NNSA to bundle roof and HVAC work scopes under a single contract to improve buying power.

In 2015, NNSA made considerable progress in its construction portfolio. Some notable developments include:

  • Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) – NNSA continued to make progress on revitalizing uranium processing infrastructure located at Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, TN. NNSA completed the UPF Site Readiness (SR) subproject on time and $20 million under budget. The UPF SR subproject included the relocation of a road; construction of a new road and bridge; relocation of water and electrical lines; construction of sediment basins and mitigation for wetlands impacted during road construction; and demolition of a parking lot, guard tower, and other structures. NNSA also succeeded in achieving a cost baseline and approval for construction for the UPF Site Infrastructure and Services (SIS) subproject. The SIS subproject will install construction road security features, ground leveling, a concrete batch plant, and a support building in preparation for UPF nuclear construction. The SIS subproject also is on schedule and budget.
  • Nuclear Facility Risk Reduction Project – NNSA delivered the Y-12 Nuclear Facility Risk Reduction Project $5.7 million under budget and 11 months ahead of schedule. This project replaced many of the electrical, ventilation, steam, cooling water, and other systems in two Y-12 production buildings, dating back to World War II.
  • Transuranic Waste Facility – A strong construction effort at Los Alamos National Laboratory, NM, in 2015 has placed the project ahead of schedule and on track to finish in 2016. Completing this facility early will reduce the risk of temporarily storing transuranic waste at the site which is currently being done in tension fabric structures.
  • High Explosive Pressing Facility – With construction at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, TX now complete, NNSA is finalizing outstanding issues to ready the facility for operations in 2016.
  • Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project – NNSA rescaled the CMRR project to optimize existing facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory, rather than build new space. Design is on schedule and under budget and NNSA expects to baseline the project next summer.
  • Defense Programs Recapitalization program (Capabilities Based Investments) – NNSA achieved significant progress in replacing and upgrading programmatic equipment and capabilities at Los Alamos, Livermore and Pantex that directly support weapons Life Extension Programs and continued infrastructure investments to science based stockpile stewardship by restoring an Annular Core Research Reactor at Sandia and enhancing sub-critical experimental capabilities at NNSS's U1a complex.

Contracts & Procurements

NNSA’s Office of Acquisition and Project Management (APM) is central to NNSA’s efforts both at revitalizing the infrastructure and executing the many other contracts essential to the enterprise’s operations. In 2015, APM successfully executed 2,027 contract actions valued at $10.7 billion. NNSA awarded more than 103 new competitive procurements and received six protests with zero percent sustained for the second consecutive year. NNSA obligated more than $233 million to small businesses, exceeding its small business goal by more than 20 percent. Since its inception in 2011, APM has delivered NNSA’s $1.4 billion project portfolio approximately $73 million – 5 percent – under original budget.

NNSA awarded the  Kansas City National Security Campus Management and Operating follow-on contract, resulting in $150 million savings to the government over the life of the contract. In addition, NNSA announced full and open competition for management and operations contracts for the Nevada National Security Site and the Sandia National Laboratories to provide the best value to the government in meeting mission outcomes.


2015 was a very productive year for NNSA. None of these accomplishments could have been possible without the commitment and dedication of our workforce who, every day, apply their considerable skills and talents to achieve our core missions. Through the application of world-class science, technology and engineeringand the continued efforts to modernize our infrastructure and foster a management culture that ensures safe, secure, and efficient operationsNNSA continues to strive to improve, while anticipating future challenges.