4 l 5 l 2021
A weekly publication of Newport News Shipbuilding
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the wheels of Newport News Shipbuilding continue to turn to fulfill the shipyard’s commitment to the U.S. Navy and carry on NNS’ 135-year legacy of “Always Good Ships.”
Dear Shipbuilders, The last 12 months challenged our ability to balance safety with our customer commitments. Purposeful planning, patience and dedication helped our shipbuilding team accomplish both. But like a house in the path of a powerful storm, our foundation was tested. An established NNSFORWARD Strategy enabled us to quickly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it’s true we hit some bumps along the way, our foundation proved strong and we accomplished a lot. This issue of Currents is dedicated to our shipbuilders’ demonstrated perseverance in 2020 that guides us toward continued success in 2021. For some, the following pages may also serve as a reminder of our NNSFORWARD Strategy, while others may be reading our future priorities for the first time. As we work together to put the pandemic behind us, let’s refocus on our NNSFORWARD Strategy, the blueprint that will help us enable our workforce, execute efficiently, transform business operations, grow our business and ultimately lead the way to a successful tomorrow. All the best,
Jennifer Boykin President Newport News Shipbuilding
COVER: A submarine unit sits beneath “Big Blue,” Newport News Shipbuilding’s iconic 1,050-ton crane that towers over the North Yard and muscles much of its heavy lifting.
The NNSFORWARD Strategy was developed in 2017 to outline business priorities for the future. The strategy centers around the goal of being a best-in-class manufacturing company. Newport News Shipbuilding will do this by improving employee health, welfare, safety and engagement; improving work execution; transforming our business with technology; and growing our design business. The five objectives and corresponding improvement priorities listed below are the roadmap to help achieve these goals.
We will demonstrate to our employees that we care about them, their development and their overall well-being by focusing on their basic human needs.
The refueling and complex overhaul of USS George Washington (CVN 73) is more than 85% complete, and shipbuilders are focused on final outfitting and test activities to support the aircraft carrier’s redelivery to the Navy in 2022.
We will transform all aspects of our business to become more agile and efficient with a focus on people, technology and culture.
•A nalyze and address safety near-miss data.
•A chieve cost and schedule goals of integrated digital shipbuilding products.
• I mprove skills and proficiency of workforce.
•M easure and reduce rework of key processes.
We will transform our business from our current way of thinking and acting to a lean thinking and acting organization. •E nsure executable production schedules across all programs. •C ontinuously improve production using lean tools. •D efine and implement Execution Operating System priorities and infrastructure for all programs. • I ncrease on-time delivery and quality of all materials.
We will sustain and expand current core products and services; shape and create new and innovative products and services; and collaborate to grow all HII segments.
We will set our company‘s new direction, communicate an inspiring vision, and model how we “win” as ONE team.
•A ttract, develop and maintain critical design skills.
• I mprove employee engagement, community involvement and Leadership Development (Factory) Program.
•S trengthen discipline to nuclear standards.
The NNSFORWARD Strategy’s Enable Our Workforce component focuses on shipbuilders and creating a work environment that inspires them to be their best. Safety is NNS’ top priority, and it took on a whole new meaning in 2020 when COVID-19 became a national crisis. Face coverings were added to shipbuilders’ lists of personal protective equipment, the need for social distancing led to shift changes, remote work arrangements and visual cues, and outside vendors were hired to supplement the shipyard’s cleaning efforts. But NNS didn’t let a pandemic get in the way of employee development. NNS continued training with precautions in mind and established 10 mobile craft learning centers across the shipyard to provide practical hands-on learning opportunities that are both safe and convenient. We also moved forward by: • I mplementing more than 2,200 safety improvements including new fixtures designed by welders to hold burning tools, installing solar powered lights above 135 life ring stations across the waterfront to make them easier to identify at night, and using storage racks in the X33 laydown area to safely store and manage inventory. •A ssisting with employee transportation challenges by partnering with Hampton Roads Transit and Rideshare, and lifting some parking restrictions.
•D istributing face masks yard-wide in Fastenal vending machines, providing hand sanitizer stations and issuing thermometers. •K eeping employees informed with regular COVID-19 updates. • I nstituting temperature screenings and establishing a COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Center.
Lead general foremen across the shipyard received 15,000 cooling masks to distribute to shipbuilders in August 2020 when temperatures reached record highs.
The second element of the NNSFORWARD Strategy focuses on transformation, and there’s no doubt 2020 was a transformative year for the shipyard. NNS’ skyline changed with the retirement and disassembly of the green 310-long-ton Goliath gantry crane and razing of the Bldg. 78 chimney, once used as part of the shipyard’s power generation system. The need for social distancing spurred a cultural disruption that sent more than 6,000 employees home to work, and NNS distributed hundreds of laptops to support the remote workforce. WebEx was introduced as the principal meeting tool, and hoteling spaces were established to provide temporary onsite workspaces for remote employees. We also moved forward by: •H osting virtual ship milestone events such as the christening of Montana (SSN 794) and the keel-laying of Massachusetts (SSN 798).
•R ecruiting and training new shipbuilders virtually, and recognizing certification graduates in drive-thru ceremonies.
•R ecognizing employees virtually, including the Master Shipbuilders’ annual recognition and Model of Excellence awards celebrations.
• I ncreased IT service desk support across all three shifts to accommodate the increase in NNS’ remote workforce.
•D elivered more than 5,500 digital work instructions to our shipbuilders constructing the new Enterprise (CVN 80) and Columbia (SSBN 826), the first of a new class of submarines.
• I ncreased connectivity to 80 assembly areas and added 1,400 network wireless access points yard-wide.
Shipbuilders brought Montana (SSN 794) one step closer to defending America’s freedom Sept. 12, 2020, with a virtual christening ceremony at the Modular Outfitting Facility. Former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell serves as Montana’s ship’s sponsor.
Another NNSFORWARD Strategy priority is Execute Efficiently, which leverages lean thinking and innovation to streamline and transform shipbuilding. NNS’ lean deployment efforts continued in 2020 with the completion of phase one for Structural Fabrication and Assembly, Virginia-Class Submarine Assembly, John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and the Steel Fabrication Shop. NNS also made significant investments in equipment and tools to help shipbuilders be more efficient. Among them were “Baby Nomura,” a horizontal boring mill added to the Detail Pipe Shop to increase productivity during pipe preparations for future ships, and a new 4,250-ton press in the Steel Fabrication Shop to support Columbia-class submarine parts. We also moved forward by: •S tanding up a Crisis Action Group (CAG) comprised of representatives from across the shipyard to focus solely on NNS’ response to COVID-19 impacts.
•R eplacing NNS’ oldest working crane in the Machine Shop with a new 104-ton overhead bridge crane.
•E xpanding the Joint Manufacturing and Assembly Facility with a new set of outfitting halls, called the Rafted Module Facility, to allow for outfitting of the Virginia Payload Module on Virginia-class submarines.
• I ncreasing the size of the Modular Outfitting Facility to assist with delivering Virginia-class submarines out of all four bays.
During a three-day process that began Oct. 3, 2020, the 7,800-ton Montana (SSN 794) was transported to the Floating Dry Dock to be prepared for launch.
Unlike some businesses that were forced to close in 2020 due to the pandemic, there is no shortage of work at NNS. The fourth component of the NNSFORWARD Strategy aims to keep it that way. Ask any shipbuilder, because whether they are welding on John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) or working to help New Jersey (SSN 796) float off later this year, all areas of the shipyard are humming with activity. CVN 79 is more than three-quarters complete and USS George Washington (CVN 73) is on its way to redelivery in 2022. The fleet support team continues work on three Los Angeles-class submarines — USS Boise (SSN 764), USS Columbus (SSN 762) and USS Helena (SSN 725) — and the submarine construction programs experienced several firsts. The Foundry team poured some of the first castings for SSN 808, and shipbuilders used 3D visual work instructions instead of paper drawings to install the first shipboard piping assemblies on Columbia (SSBN 826), the lead ship of the new class. We also moved forward by: •R eceiving a $2.9 billion contract to execute the refueling and complex overhaul of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
•C ontinuing cost improvements and planning efficiencies that have enabled a single-phase delivery strategy for CVN 79.
•S igning a $22 billion construction contract for the first two Columbia-class submarines.
John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is more than 78% complete. Shipbuilders continue to focus on compartment completion and key propulsion plant milestones.
Each element of the NNSFORWARD Strategy builds on the next, and all of the elements operate on a foundation of strong leadership. The Lead the Way component is about setting the company‘s new direction, communicating an inspiring vision, and uniting as one team to lead the way forward — both inside and outside of the shipyard. Shipbuilders’ fortitude was tested in 2020 with the pressures of COVID-19 and civil unrest plaguing our nation, and they continually demonstrated the power of their compassion and spirit of service. When they weren’t making face masks for each other and identifying better ways to social distance, shipbuilders encouraged NNS to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) off tool room shelves to help local health care providers. As we move forward in 2021, NNS will depend on shipbuilders to unite in their approach to problem-solving. By working together to eliminate obstacles and remove frustrations before they have a big impact, NNS will strengthen its nuclear standards and accomplish the critical work that only NNS can do. We also moved forward by: •P roviding unconscious bias training to more than 3,300 leaders.
•R olling up our sleeves to build up the American Red Cross’ blood supply.
•C ompleting NNS’ 18th Habitat for Humanity house in 2020 and breaking ground on the 19th house in March 2021.
•S haring time to help with the Great American Cleanup.
•D onating more than 8,000 school supplies during the annual School Tools Drive in fall 2020.
• I mplementing strategic hiring opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion.
•S upporting the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula with multiple food drives. Sixty NNS shipbuilders collected nearly 1,000 pounds of trash during the nationwide Great American Cleanup campaign in September 2020.
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Photography, design and production by Newport News Shipbuilding Communications Division. Currents@hii-nns.com Currents is published every Monday for employees of Newport News Shipbuilding. To submit a story, visit nns.huntingtoningalls.com/currents.