June 14, 2021

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6 l 14 l 2021

A weekly publication of Newport News Shipbuilding

Photo by Ashley Cowan

A Look at the Future of Training With a large number of young, new employees coming to Newport News Shipbuilding, X67 Manager Robb Schrock and his team were looking for a way to train faster and more effectively. The solution? A partnership with Business Transformation and Technology’s Dogfish Labs to create training environments using virtual reality. “According to industry standards, retention from classroom training is about 20%,” said Schrock, who manages non-nuclear inspectors. “Full immersion training like virtual reality is 70% retention. It’s a no-brainer.” Dogfish Labs and X67 began working on the project in February.

Prototypes were created for virtual reality training with static scenarios and basic ship compartments – one for X67 inspectors and another that was already in development for X11 fitters and X18 welders for confined space training was refined. With feedback from prototype users, work started on a larger project called ObserVR – which is being designed to support all trades. Leaders from across the company have participated in demos with the virtual reality tools. “The idea is to tailor training to your trade’s particular needs through this customizable training platform,” said Jovan Celar, an engineer and product owner in Dogfish Labs. CONTINUED ON PG 2

COVID-19 Crisis Action Group to Disband Newport News Shipbuilding’s COVID-19 Crisis Action Group (CAG) is disbanding July 1. The move comes as COVID-19 cases decline, vaccination rates increase and most protective measures wind down. The COVID CAG inbox (COVIDCAG@hii-nns.com) will also be inactivated. COVID-19 testing and vaccine administration have transitioned to QuadMed. For testing, contact the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-844-243-8749. For vaccine-related questions, contact

the HII Family Health Center or your primary care physician. For other questions or concerns, contact your Human Resources business partner or Labor Relations representative. Future COVID-19 efforts will be handled by appropriate departments. If the COVID-19 environment should relapse and it is necessary to reinstate protective measures that go above and beyond what the departments can handle, the CAG will be reestablished.

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An Oasis in the North Yard Charles Evans (O53) brings his love of gardening to work. He grows vegetables in buckets near his shop in the North Yard. Plants include cucumbers, tomatoes, and a variety of peppers. He tends to them before his shift and during lunch. “I water the plants in the morning before work,” Evans said. “It’s my time to relax and enjoy the quiet.” He’ll promote gardening to anyone who will stop by and listen. “People seem to like the garden,” he said. “Anyone can come by and pick what they want. This morning I picked two cucumbers and ate them for lunch.” Evans’ gardening knowledge stems from growing up on a farm in North Carolina. “I’ve always had a garden,” he said. “I learned a lot about gardening from my dad. At home I grow beans, peppers, squash and zucchini. I even have 55 tomato plants. To watch something grow is neat to me.” Evans has grown his career at Newport News Shipbuilding, working on aircraft carriers for 42 years. He currently hands out material to craftsmen and craftswomen. “I’m one of the oldest shipbuilders handing out material,” he said.

Charles Evans grows vegetables in buckets near his shop in the North Yard, tending to them before his shift and during his lunch break. Photo by Ashley Cowan

“I know exactly what they need.” Time spent outdoors is one of Evans’ needs. Gardening helps him slow down and relax. “I’ve had open- heart surgery, knee surgery and pancreatic cancer,” he said. “I don’t give up.” Now, he’s thoroughly wrapped up in enjoying his hobby. “Gardening and shipbuilding have a lot in common,” he said. “Both take a lot of patience and care.”

A Look at the Future of Training CONTINUED FROM PG 1

Although the prototypes were developed primarily to gather feedback for the ObserVR project, they have proven to be valuable training tools for hundreds of shipbuilders so far. With space at a premium at NNS, the virtual reality headsets make training portable and accessible across the waterfront. “Since this is cloud based, a supervisor can build it at their desk and upload it to the cloud. Another person in the field can download it onto a headset, and you can train people instantaneously as long as you have a 5-feet by 5-feet area,” Schrock said. Virtual reality also allows shipbuilders to experience training – and make mistakes – in a safe environment, building “muscle memory” for proper and safe practices, according to Schrock.

Commemorating Flag Day Flag Day honors the official adoption of the American flag on June 14, 1777. For 244 years, the flag has stood as a powerful symbol of the United States and the freedom Americans enjoy. The American flag flies at Newport News Shipbuilding beside a unit for Virginia-class submarine Idaho (SSN 799). Photo by Ashley Cowan

For example, during confined space training, if a craftsman or craftswoman enters an area that isn’t safe, the screen goes dim and they will hear ringing in their ears as if they are about to lose consciousness. “You’re not going to forget that experience,” Celar said. He pointed out the new generation of shipbuilders – and prospective shipbuilders – is made up of “digital natives,” and tools like virtual reality will help keep them engaged, excited and motivated. “We’re using the latest and greatest technology to build ships and figure out how to do it in the safest and most efficient way,” Celar said.


Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam recently signed legislation legalizing marijuana in the commonwealth beginning July 1. As a federal contractor, Newport News Shipbuilding is required to abide by federal laws including the Controlled Substances Act and the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act, which requires the company to maintain a drug-free workplace. Therefore, NNS’ policy on the possession or use of marijuana will not change, and the company will maintain its current drug and alcohol testing posture. That is, a positive test for marijuana will result in a failed drug test, which may lead to disciplinary action including discharge. See the Distribution A memo for more information.

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AROUND THE YARD REMINDER: Dependent Verification Due June 18 Employees who need to verify their dependents to maintain benefits coverage must submit verification documents by Friday, June 18. Employees who need to participate should have received a letter in the mail with instructions. Dependents who are not verified by the deadline will lose their Huntington Ingalls Industries benefits on July 1. For questions regarding dependent verification, call the Huntington Ingalls Benefits Center at 1-877-216-3222.

Relay For Life is June 26 Newport News Shipbuilding is co-sponsoring the 2021 Relay for Life Drive Thru Luminaria event from 6:30 until 9:30 p.m. on June 26 at Hampton Roads Academy. About 20 more volunteers are needed to help with event set up, traffic flow coordination, site map distribution, swag bag distribution, donation collection, and event clean up. Volunteering hours range from 3:30 until 10:30 p.m., and volunteers can choose their time slots when they sign up. Visit nns.YourCause.com or contact Billie Kloc (X06/X22) to register to volunteer. Shipbuilders with a short story about their experience or a family member’s experience with cancer that they do not mind sharing, are encouraged to contact Shakira Outlaw (O55) or Jenn Cherry (O22) via email to have their story featured in Currents. To donate, register or join NNS’ team, visit the Relay for Life website on MyNNS or www.RelayForLife.org/NNS. For more information on registration and donation, contact Amy Prillaman (O93) or Jenn Cherry (O22).

Foundry Entrance Has New Look Component Fabrication and Assembly teamed with Communications this year to redesign the main entrance of the Foundry with a focus on shipbuilders. There are several large photos of Foundry employees who have made key contributions to improving the safety culture. This improvement is part of Newport News Shipbuilding’s ongoing focus on engagement, which is one of the company values. Photo by Ashley Cowan

REMINDER: CARES Act COVID-19 Reimbursement Survey Ends June 20 Employees who used Paid Time Off (PTO), Annual Leave (AL), Vacation (VAC) or Paid Personal/Sick Time for COVID-19-related reasons from March 15, 2020, through March 28, 2021, could be eligible for reimbursement. Visit the HII CARES Act Paid Leave Survey website by June 20 for additional information and frequently asked questions.

NNS to Provide Employee Vaccination Statistics Thousands of Newport News shipbuilders have received COVID-19 vaccinations through the company or in the community, and many have expressed interest in knowing how many shipbuilders are now protected against the virus. Starting Monday, June 21, NNS will begin supplementing its weekly report of COVID-19 cases with the percentage of NNS employees who have been fully vaccinated. This information, along with total COVID-19 cases, the number of cases reported the previous week and total employees medically cleared to return to work will provide a more complete picture of how the workforce stands as NNS works through the pandemic. Myth: Getting the vaccine will give me COVID-19. Facts: The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 because it does not contain the virus, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others point out. The vaccines teach your immune system to detect and fight the virus, but they don’t cause an infection. The symptoms you might feel – and they vary – show that your immune system is responding.

Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 Cases reported last week: 6 Total cases at NNS: 3,581 Total number of NNS employees medically cleared to return to work: 2,951 See case details at


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FitNNS and SHIPs Network present De-Stress Fest. Sign up for events on MyNNS. Contact Cailee Helmick for questions.


The Engagement and Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) offices invite shipbuilders to join their monthly ED&I Together Strong Life Unites Panel Discussion Series: Creating a Path from Hope to Change from 4:30 until 6 p.m. via Zoom. Panelists include Susan Ceglinski, Juanita Bivens, John Witherspoon, D.A. Wolkowich, Carlos Moulds and Emmylou Mosley. This event is open to all NNS employees. No charge will be provided. Register on MyNNS.


NNS Spear & Gear, Newport News Shipbuilding’s online company store, will host a pop-up sale from 6 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. outside Bldg. 520. All items – including a wide variety of company-logoed apparel, products and merchandise – will be 50% off marked prices. Shop online 24/7 with free shipping at www.nnsSpearAndGear.com. Please note: the 50% off sale applies only to items at the pop-up, not items in the online store.


Looking to learn where college savings fit into your financial plan? Register for SmartPath’s “Strategies To Pay For College” webinar at noon to learn about 529 plans and how you can effectively save for your child’s college. Visit www.joinsmartpath.com/HII/classes to register.


Shipbuilders Together Realizing Inclusion, Diversity and Equality (STRIDE) and the Ingalls Shipbuilders Equality Alliance (ISEA) invite shipbuilders to participate in “Allyship Building,” a virtual panel discussion and education seminar from 4:30 until 5:30 p.m. Join shipbuilders from NNS, Ingalls, and the HII corporate office as they examine the topic of ally-ship from different angles and share personal experiences. Register on MyNNS to learn, ask questions, and become a better ally to fellow shipbuilders. The audience will be invited to ask questions at the end of the event. Contact J. Ariel Matthews (X74) for more information.




Join the Shock Community of Practice (CoP) from noon until 12:30 p.m. for a Virtual Learning Session (VLS) on the Shock CoP. The shock CoP is a network with key participants from all shock-related departments across the shipyard. The Shock CoP exists to provide a unified front to improve the technical expertise, rigor and agility of the shipyard in all things shock related. The diverse team works on both carrier and submarine programs. Join us to learn more about the Shock CoP. Sign up on MyNNS to receive a calendar invite to attend. No charge is provided. For questions and concerns, email E&D Connections.

Newport News Shipbuilding and BayPort Credit Union are sponsoring the Peninsula Relay For Life Drive-Thru Luminaria Event from 6:30 until 9:30 p.m. at Hampton Roads Academy. Luminarias will be lit to honor cancer survivors and caregivers or in remembrance of those lost to cancer. These flames burn during the event to serve as a reminder of the purpose of Relay For Life. Luminarias will be $10 for one bag or $25 for three bags. Visit www.RelayforLife.org/NNS to donate, register or join our team.


During annual enrollment United Steelworkers, guards and salaried employees were set to “tobacco user” for HII medical benefits. Employees who do not use tobacco or have completed a tobacco cessation program must update their tobacco-use status to “tobacco free” by June 30 to save $660 annually on their medical insurance for the upcoming benefit plan year. Update tobacco-use status at www.hiibenefits.com or by calling the Huntington Ingalls Benefits Center at 1-877-216-3222.

The African American Shipbuilders Association (AASA) invites shipbuilders to join “Conquering Fear: The Angelo Maker Story.” This event is open to all NNS employees and will be hosted on Zoom. No charge number will be provided for attending this event. Visit the AASA website for more information.


Join a Zoom information brief from 5 until 6 p.m. to discuss The Apprentice School’s Youth Builders Preapprenticeship Program. Pre-registration is not required. To attend, go to www.as.edu. Under the Programs menu, select Youth Builders, and you will be directed to the ‘Zoom Information Brief’ link that will become live just before the session. For questions prior to the event, email youthbuilders@as.edu. The Youth Builders program is open to 11th and 12th graders throughout Hampton Roads who have an interest in shipbuilding careers. Applications for the 2021-2022 cohort are being accepted. To apply, rising juniors and seniors should go to www.as.edu, navigate to the Programs menu and select Youth Builders. The application deadline the deadline is July 9.



Join Engineering & Design and Chris Brown from noon until 12:30 p.m. for a Virtual Learning Session (VLS) on Technical Skills Development. Technical Skills Development provides the engineering and technical workforce with the training needed to accomplish their daily tasks and meet the company’s goals. They accomplish this by developing and delivering internal training programs to suit training needs. Sign up on MyNNS to receive a calendar invite to attend. No charge is provided. For questions and concerns, email E&D Connections.


You can help reduce the unnecessary use of energy at Newport News Shipbuilding and help make our workplace more energy efficient. Shipbuilder Vickie Robinson uses natural light instead of ceiling lights while in the office whenever possible to save energy. View the poster featuring Robinson on MyNNS.


With the exception of Zone C parking, located at Hidens, Newport News Shipbuilding employees must display a valid parking hangtag at all times in company parking lots, even in handicap, expectant mothers or visitor parking. Vehicles not displaying the correct tag are subject to towing at the owner’s expense. For tag-related questions, contact the Parking Solutions Team at parkingsolutions@hii-nns.com.

Compared to figures from May 2020 Year-to-Date Injuries


702 (up 85%) Year-to-Date Injuries with Days Away, Restricted or Transferred

433 (up 61%) Safety Task Team Inspection Closure Rate

94% (18% above goal)

Visit www.buildyourcareer.com to search for the latest NNS job openings.

Job Title

Req Number



Designer 4 Pipefitter (entry level) Pipefitter (experienced) Pipefitter (trainee) Project Management Analyst 3 Superintendent

5587 5423 5419 5416 6590 6490

E70 X42 X42 X42 X44 O64

Newport News Newport News Newport News Newport News Newport News Newport News

Employees are encouraged to use MyHR or the “Current HII Employees Job Search” button at www.buildyourcareer.com to apply. The company continues to offer cash bonus awards for referrals to select positions, visit www.huntingtoningalls.com/hii-careers/refer-a-friend for more information.

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