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Photo by Chris Oxley




Evergreen Seattle’s iconic Space Needle provided a fitting backdrop for the christening of the Virginia-class submarine Washington (SSN 787) on March 5. More than 2,000 guests attended the ceremony outside the Modular Outfitting Facility to watch Ship’s Sponsor Elisabeth Mabus christen the submarine named for the Evergreen State. In addition to the image of one of Washington’s most famous landmarks, the ceremony had several Washington touches throughout to mark the submarine’s namesake. “We’re doing something new by bringing a little bit of Washington state to our ceremony,” Newport News President Matt Mulherin said in his opening remarks. “Before Elisabeth breaks the ceremonial bottle across the bow, she will dip it in water from Washington’s Puget Sound to signify the relationship between this submarine and her namesake state.” Elisabeth Mabus was joined on the bottle-break platform by her father, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. Also on the platform were Mulherin, Washington’s Commanding Officer, Commander Jason Schneider, and Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, Adm. Frank Caldwell. When she smashed the sparkling wine against Washington’s bow, splashes of Puget Sound’s water hit the submarine. The submarine’s crest, bearing the outline and iconic features of the state, adorned the bow flag assembled by shipbuilders in the Sail Loft. After hours of sewing and

assembly, Arlene Quinn, a sheet metal craftswoman, said, “The final product is worth it.” During remarks before the bottle break, guest speakers emphasized the important role Washington will play when it joins the fleet. “We don’t know what challenges we will face as a nation in 10, 15 or 20 years,” Elisabeth Mabus said, “but we know that because of the work being done now at Newport News and Electric Boat and by the sailors who call this ship home, USS Washington will be prepared for whatever is to come.” Ray Mabus emphasized in his keynote address that it’s due to the hard work of shipbuilders that Washington will be ready to assist in the U.S. Navy’s mission. “We provide presence around the globe, around the clock – ensuring stability, deterring adversaries, providing our nation’s leaders with options in times of crisis,” he said, stressing the importance of Navy ships and submarines. “When it comes to platforms…quantity has a quality all its own. And here at Newport News, in Groton, at Quonset Point and around the country, thousands and thousands of extraordinarily skilled shipbuilders have constructed USS Washington, adding to that growing fleet, bringing to life the most advanced submarines in the world.” Washington is the 14th Virginia-class submarine and the first of the two-submarines-per-year build plan between Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat. For Keith White, sheet metal craftsman and the ceremony’s national anthem singer, Washington is the first christening he’s attended since the Texas christening in 2004. Texas was the first submarine White worked on, and now he’s proud to build Washington and play a part in its celebration. “It’s very exciting,” White said. “I was working on Washington from the beginning. It’s a reward to see it become whole – all the parts come together to make one vessel.” I By Phoebe Doty To see photos, video highlights or a full replay of the ceremony, visit

NNS President Matt Mulherin and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus watch Ship’s Sponsor Elisabeth Mabus christen Washington (SSN 787). Photo by John Whalen

In 1940, the U.S. government initiated the Emergency Shipbuilding Program. As the war in Europe escalated, a large fleet of merchant vessels was needed to carry ammunition, trains, tanks, guns and other supplies to U.S. Allies across the Atlantic. “Emergency” shipyards were quickly created across the United States, and Newport News Shipbuilding decided to build one in North Carolina. NNS President Homer L. Ferguson believed Wilmington, North Carolina, to be the ideal location for the new shipyard “on account of housing and labor conditions and the necessity for speed.” By January 1941, a stretch of land was rapidly transformed into North Carolina Shipbuilding. Ferguson appointed his secondin-command, Roger Williams, as president of the new company and sent a team of superintendents from Newport News to oversee operations. In March 1941, the yard received its first order for 25 Liberty ships. The new shipbuilders proved to be fast learners. As a farming state still recovering from the Great Depression, North Carolina had an eager workforce already familiar with mechanical equipment. When the shipyard opened its gates for the launch of the state’s first Liberty ship, the SS Zebulon Baird Vance, 12,000 people from across the state attended the celebration, which lasted late into the evening. The date was December 6, 1941.

In 1942, the U.S. Maritime Commission issued this poster to encourage shipbuilding during World War II. The C-1 Liberty Ship Virginia Dare, was launched on February 3, 1942 at North Carolina Shipbuilding.

The next morning, America woke to the news of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Shipbuilders in Newport News and North Carolina would respond by building ships at a furious pace. At their peak in 1943, more than 50,000 men and women were on payroll between the two shipyards. More than 20,000 left to enlist in the armed services. Despite the workforce fluctuations, the North Carolina shipbuilders contributed a staggering 243 ships to the war effort. Of the 126 North Carolina Liberty ships built, 24 were lost during the war, and another three were deliberately sunk to help form a defensive barrier during the invasion of Normandy. Newport News stayed busy with its own building spree – one battleship, seven aircraft carriers and four cruisers. For the company’s contributions, the Navy awarded NNS its “E” pennant for excellence in shipbuilding, a recognition that included the North Carolina shipbuilders. After the war, the emergency shipyards across the country were closed, including North Carolina Shipbuilding. On May 1, 1946, Williams wrote, “We have accomplished our task and may forget the hardships and headaches in connection with it and enjoy the feeling that it has been a job well done. The combination of a few Newport News shipbuilders and a good supply of intelligent, willing North Carolina men and women has accomplished the task.” | By Peter Stern

Photo by Ricky Thompson

Though employees will be allowed to bring personal camera-enabled devices inside the shipyard beginning in May, the use of camera and video features remain strictly prohibited. Video call functioning on apps such as FaceTime and Skype should never be used on NNS property. Unauthorized use of these features on personal devices will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. Visit for resources and more information about NNS’ personal camera-enabled device policy.

“I never thought I’d see this day come,” said Inspector Beth Feliciano. “I’ve been working at Newport News Shipbuilding for 11 years and, as long as I can remember, personal devices with cameras have never been allowed inside shipyard gates.” Well, that’s about to change. In February, the company unveiled a new security plan in the works that will allow employees and visitors to bring personal camera-enabled devices onto shipyard property. However, photography will continue to be prohibited. “Since March, employees have been busy completing mandatory training, which teaches them how to identify authorized company photographers and videographers and how to report unauthorized taking of photo and video,” said Derek Jenkins, director of Security. “The training will be an annual requirement going forward.” Material Handling Shipbuilder Harweda Knight is excited about being able to bring his smartphone inside the yard. “The policy will be more convenient and cost-effective for a lot of employees, including me,” he said. “As cellular devices have evolved over time, it’s almost impossible to find a phone that doesn’t have a built-in camera. It forces employees to choose whether to leave their phone in their car, purchase a phone without a camera, forgo having a smartphone altogether, or buy a separate phone to use just at work.” Knight uses a TracFone®, a prepaid mobile phone that he loads minutes onto as needed. “So much of our life is centered on being connected to family, friends and society with a click of a button, it’s tough to go to work and not be readily accessible.” Inspector John Schiavone is a father of four teenagers. “It’s an eerie feeling when you’re at work and know you can’t be reached easily in an emergency,” he said. “Having my personal phone with me during the day will give me comfort in knowing that no one outside of work is trying to reach me.” Schiavone and his wife like to volunteer at their children’s school as their schedule permits. “A lot of opportunities are sent through email

but, unfortunately, I don’t see them until it’s too late,” he said. “Bringing my smartphone to work will allow me to check my personal account during lunch and see opportunities as they arise.” Apprentice School Graduate Brian Wray has a trendier way of communicating with family and friends while at work. “I bought a smartwatch so those who need to reach me throughout the day could text me,” he said. “It works great because it’s on my wrist wherever I go. But once the policy changes, I plan on bringing my phone to work with me.” Knight, Schiavone and Wray have completed the camera-enabled device training module, “Control of Photography and Videography on NNS Property.” “The training is very informative and it lets employees know who is authorized to take photos and video on approved company devices based on a red camera icon printed on their badge, and who isn’t,” said Schiavone. “The company is trusting us to do the right thing, and I’m confident employees will. I haven’t met a shipbuilder here who doesn’t want what’s best for the Navy, our sailors and this country.” | By Lauren Shuck

Healthy family fun activities followed the unveiling of the new HII Family Health Center sign on March 19. Photos by Ricky Thompson


More than 300 shipbuilders and their families toured the new HII Family Health Center during a grand opening event on Saturday, March 19. The event included a cooking demonstration and other healthy foods, games and activities for people of all ages. Shipbuilders James and Regina Miller and their daughter Jayden helped unveil the health center’s street-level sign during the opening ceremony. “Shipbuilders like the Miller family, and each one of you here, are the heart of the shipyard, and helping you and your families stay safe and healthy is critical to our continued success,” said Vice President of Human Resources and Administration Bill Bell. Operated by third-party provider QuadMed, the HII Family Health Center has 26 exam rooms, a laboratory, physical therapy room, X-ray equipment, and a built-in CVS Pharmacy complete

with a convenient drive-thru. Photography by more than 40 shipbuilders and their families decorates the hallways, offices, elevators and examination rooms. “I wasn’t sure about the health center, so I wanted to come check it out,” said Process Improvement Analyst Cenise Waites. “It’s awesome how many different things are offered.” Engineering Manager Steve Grubbs, who previously had appointments with the primary care staff, a nutritionist and health and wellness coach, brought his family to experience the new facility. “I’m not saying that everyone needs to utilize the health center as their primary provider, but everyone should try it out and then decide how to use the resources that are available,” said Grubbs. “I’ve seen a significant reduction in my out-of-pocket expenses.” More than 800 appointments have been booked since the center’s March 1 opening. I By Jeremy Bustin To make appointments call 757-327-4200 or visit the QuadMed website at



always good ship s SN3 Opens Field Office in the United Kingdom On March 1, Stoller Newport News Nuclear opened a field office in Cumbria in northwest England. SN3’s new office in the Innovation Centre Westlakes Science and Technology Park will focus on radiological waste project opportunities at the Sellafield site and across the United Kingdom. Newport News Shipbuilding will support current market initiatives to deliver better project value to U.K. taxpayers and make long-term investments in the future of the region through collaboration with strategic local and U.K. partners. SN3 will also collaborate with sister company Universal Pegasus International, an engineering design and project management firm serving global oil and gas markets, including the North Sea, to bring a fresh approach and technological expertise to respective decommissioning and new-build design projects.

Navy Selects CMSD for San Diego-Based Maintenance Services


Continental Maritime of San Diego is one of three companies awarded a potential five-year $1.32 billion Navy contract to maintain amphibious warfare and surface combatant ships that dock in San Diego. The new agreement will require the companies to compete on a ship-by-ship basis, rather than winning money for multiple vessels in the same class. The Navy made the announcement March 16.

Adm. Richardson and Rep. Peters Visit CMSD Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Rep. Scott Peters visited Continental Maritime of San Diego for a tour of its shipyard and an overview of the company’s history in San Diego on February 18. Peters, who has represented California’s 52nd Congressional District and portions of the city of San Diego since 2013, said, “I appreciate the opportunity to visit with Adm. Richardson and learn more about CMSD’s role in increasing naval readiness and creating high-quality jobs for our region.” Richardson, who has toured a number of shipyards since taking office in September 2015, said, “Visiting each of these yards, hearing from their leadership, talking to individual builders and maintainers, walking the shop floors, helps me experience firsthand the types of work being done to support our ships and keep them mission-ready.” Along the tour, Richardson and Peters stopped at a maintenance shop to speak with employees. “I really didn’t expect them to come over and meet us,” said Ed Gearing. “It was like talking to one of the guys. They were really down-to-earth.” The experience was similar for Ted Roberts. “It was an honor to meet and shake hands with both of them. I felt surprised and honored that they would stop and talk with us.”

Innovation Is a Verb, Not Just a Noun In February, NNS hosted an Innovation Awareness Summit for the Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, along with Program Executive Officers Rear Adm. Thomas Moore and Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, to showcase the company’s innovation and thought leadership. Tours of carrier and submarine construction provided hands-on opportunities to demonstrate the use of augmented reality, modeling and simulation, additive manufacturing, integrated digital shipbuilding and advanced concept design tools, and to see firsthand how NNS is changing the landscape of maritime manufacturing. During the tour, more than 15 different technology demonstrations were conducted, highlighting the breadth and depth of Research and Development.

innovat ion congressional Leader Visits Undersea Solutions Group Representative Gwen Graham, who represents Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, visited Undersea Solutions Group on March 10 at the company’s facilities in Panama City Beach, Florida. Graham met with USG’s engineers to learn about their current work with underwater vehicles, including Proteus, a dual-mode underwater vehicle designed to deliver large payloads at distances of hundreds of miles in either manned or unmanned modes. Graham also received an update on USG’s overhaul and modernization of an Egyptian navy submersible. “Undersea Solutions Group provides our military a vital service that will continue to grow as our Navy incorporates more manned and unmanned undersea vehicles in its missions,” Graham said. “I’m proud to see these specialized, technologically advanced vehicles designed and built in north Florida.”





In his most recent quarterly earnings letter to employees, HII President and CEO Mike Petters proudly announced: “We did what we said we were going to do when we stood up HII in 2011: We reached the 9-plus percent operating margin goal we set for our shipbuilding business in 2015.” In this follow-up interview, he talks more about the significance of that accomplishment and what’s ahead for HII. Q: We’re celebrating HII’s five-year anniversary this year. When you look back on the last five years, what are you most proud of?

A: I think our track record and execution have been the foundation of everything else. I’m most proud of the hard work that all of the shipbuilders have put in to make this happen. It’s day-by-day, hour-by-hour, frame-by-frame kind of work that, in aggregate, turns into something that the corporation can look at over time. But it’s people coming to work every day, doing their best work and having leadership trying to create opportunities for them to do their best work. I think that’s our formula for success, and we’re going to stick with it.

we talked about. There was nothing easy about doing that. Some people have accused us of making it look easy, and maybe we have, but it was not easy. Everyone who’s been here for five years knows that there hasn’t been anything easy about what we’ve done, and for that I’m really proud. I’m proud of the way the team rallied around our goal and the way they performed on it. This serves us well because we have a reputation for being a company that tells people what we’re going to do, and then we go do what we said we would. Q: That very briefly covers the past. Looking ahead: What is “The Path to 2020?”

Q: When we spun off, one of the primary goals was the 9 percent margin in the shipbuilding business. What was your thought process in setting that goal?

A: It’s got a few different parts. It’s about: How do we create more value in this company? More value is good for everyone. It’s good for our employees, it’s good for our customers, it’s good for our shareholders—so how do we go and do that? The first decision we’ve made is that we’re going to invest heavily in our shipbuilding business—major capital projects going on at both Ingalls and Newport News to support today’s programs and tomorrow’s programs and the programs after that. These are generational investments that will create value in our enterprise, which will be good for the employees and also support our customers. All of that still continues to be built on the foundation of execution.

A: There are two parts of it. That really is where the business ought to operate—somewhere in that range—and we were way outside that range at the time. Our aspiration was to get back to where we should historically be. Secondly, by setting that goal, it counted on the execution

Beyond that, now that we’ve got the company in the range of where it should be, it’s time to bring our shareholders along too. So we’re going to be doing that, and we’ve communicated our plans in regard to dividend increases and share buybacks to do that.

We still have the capacity and flexibility and agility that we need to make investments in spaces where we think we can create more value. We see those spaces today as being in the government services arena—supporting the Navy around the world. AMSEC, for instance, has 25 offices around the world, and we have 100 people in Japan. Wherever the fleet is, we’re there. I think that will continue. In fact, I think the demand for that kind of support is going to go up in the future, and we need to be best-in-class at providing that support.

The first decision we’ve made is that we’re going to invest heavily in our shipbuilding business—major capital projects going on at both Ingalls and Newport News to support today’s programs and tomorrow’s programs and the programs after that.


The Department of Energy (DoE) is going through its own version of recapitalization, and we have created a set of capabilities that we’ve combined under SN3. This is designed to make sure these DoE customers have the opportunity to take advantage of our capability. I’m really proud of that, and I’m really optimistic about future opportunities in this market. The timing is hard to predict because it’s working with a different part of the federal government, but it’s a way for us to take what we know how to do well and create a channel to a new market and new set of customers. And we’re excited about these efforts. In the commercial nuclear space, we’re in a place where we’re fabricating things that take advantage of the craftsmanship of our people—their ability to do highquality work in a highly regulated environment—and we have customers in that space who recognize their capability. We think that’s an opportunity for us to expand, so we think this will add value. In the oil and gas space, that market has not gone the way we thought it would go two years ago. But in that market, like any other market, it’s very important that you pay attention to your customers. The customers in that market are looking for us to preserve capability, and that’s where our focus is right now. That space has a history of big swings, and you want to position yourself to take advantage of it when it swings again. Q: We’re focusing a lot more on diversity and inclusion. If you could fast-forward five or 10 years from now, what effect do you think that has on the company? A: We just talked about creating channels to new customers who may need our capabilities. We’re also... going to find that there are customers out there who need new capabilities, and these are things we’ve never done before or haven’t tried before. So from my perspective,

Photo by John Whalen

the focus on diversity and inclusion is really about making sure that we’re taking full advantage of everyone who wants to do good work. We want to take full advantage of their ideas and their skills to make sure we have a chance to do our best work. So where does that take us five years from now? We’re probably doing a lot more diverse things with new and different customers, and I’m excited about these possibilities. In fact, it is the centerpiece of our growth strategy, and it’s also something I am personally committed to making happen. Q: Last question: What keeps you coming to work? A: I’m learning something new every day. There’s a great amount of satisfaction that I get from being part of something, being part of an organization that knows how to go out and do hard things and do it right for people who need it done right. The things that we’re involved in, the products we build and manage, some of them will someday be making history, making our country safe, supporting the energy infrastructure of the country— whatever it is, they’re all bigger than us. Plus, I have fun. I like coming to work because there are a lot of great people here, and I like working with them.

Photo by John Whalen

Super-Sized Kennedy Unit Goes Into Dry Dock In April, “Big Blue,” the shipyard’s 1,050-metric ton gantry crane, placed a 965-ton structure into Dry Dock 12, continuing the construction of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79). The superlift, comprising two pump rooms, is 80 feet long and about 100 feet wide. The section is complete with grating, pumps, valves, pipe, electrical panels, equipment mounting studs, lighting and other outfitting components. The superlift was made with more than twice the amount of outfitting accomplished as compared to the same superlift

on Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). On Ford, a large number of those components were installed after the superlift was placed in the dry dock. Mike Shawcross, Newport News’ vice president, CVN 79 construction, said, “By installing most of the outfitting before the section goes into dry dock, we are able to significantly reduce man-hours, which translates to cost savings for the Navy and the American tax payer.” This is the 21st superlift that has been placed in the dock since the ship’s keel was laid in August 2015. Kennedy is now 17 percent complete.


Yardlines is published quarterly for the employees of Newport News Shipbuilding. This issue of Yardlines was produced by: Jeremy Bustin, Phoebe Doty, Amy McDonald, Eugene Phillips, Ben Scott, LaMar Smith, Peter Stern, Lauren Shuck and Kimberly Zayakosky.

Todd Ashley works on a torpedo tube shutter door for Delaware (SSN 791). Photo by Chris Oxley


Editor: Gina Chew-Holman Send change of address, comments, questions and story ideas to or call (757) 380-2627.

Photo by Chris Oxley

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MAKING A DIFFERENCE connecting people and nature Dave Lauthers wasn’t always an outdoorsman. After a 21-year career in the Navy, the retired chief began working at the shipyard in 2002 as a logistics planner. It wasn’t until his youngest son joined the Boy Scouts that his interest in the outdoors grew. Lauthers got involved with The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics – an educational resource whose goal is to educate everyone who spends time outdoors to preserve the natural lands. “My first introduction to Leave No Trace was in April 2009 when I took the Leave No Trace Trainer class in Shenandoah National Park. It was my first backpacking experience and it progressed after that,” Lauthers said. Since taking a Leave No Trace Master Educators course in 2011, Lauthers has taught Leave No Trace awareness classes at numerous scouting events and at the shipyard. Lauthers continues to be involved with the Boy Scouts of America. He travels around the country attending conferences and teaching scouting leaders and outdoor

professionals the principles of Leave No Trace. Lauthers’ 19-year-old son became an Eagle Scout in 2014 and he is also a Leave No Trace trainer. Lauthers is a member of the Virginia Master Naturalist – Peninsula Chapter, The James River Association and a board member of the Newport News Green Foundation. In 2012, he became the Colonial Virginia Council Outdoor Ethics Advocate, and this year he was the James River Association March Volunteer of the Month. He’s also Virginia’s Leave No Trace State Advocate and volunteers as a master naturalist at the Virginia Living Museum. “Think about the impact you have on the environment, whether you’re walking your dog or you see trash in the park, you can make a difference.”

Logistics Planner Dave Lauthers rakes mulch in Victory Landing Park, just one of his many year-round endeavors to preserve the natural lands. Photo by John Whalen



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Look inside for the 2015 HII Report to the Community

Ford statue unveiled On April 7, Ship’s Sponsor Susan Ford Bales, unveiled a bronze statue of her father during a dedication ceremony on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) being built at Newport News Shipbuilding. The 7-foot-tall sculpture depicts Ford as a sailor serving on USS Monterey. Bales said “Always Good Ships, NNS” was inscribed on the statue’s scupper rail to ensure the spirit of the shipbuilders will forever be a part of her father’s legacy. Photo by Chris Oxley

Profile for Newport News Shipbuilding

Yardlines, Spring 2016  

Yardlines, Spring 2016