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In This Issue Shipbuilders’ Ideas Pay Off Pipe Shop Team Does It Again


Photo by Chris Oxley

First Section of CVN 78 Flight Deck Erected

A Publication of Newport News Shipbuilding

May 2012

FLight Deck


CVN 78 Reaches 75 Percent Structural Completion

Just days after Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) shipbuilders erected and set units into place to reach the 75 percent structurally-complete mark, the first piece of the aircraft carrier’s flight deck was lifted into place. The 717-metric ton flight-deck unit includes combat systems and electronics spaces. “Installation of the first section of flight deck represents a significant milestone in the ship’s construction process,” said Rolf Bartschi, vice president of the CVN 78 program. “I am extremely proud of our shipbuilders for the work they have accomplished to support this event.”

On April 7, shipbuilders lifted the first section of the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) flight deck into place. More than 75 percent of CVN 78’s structure is now complete. Photo by Chris Oxley

CVN 78, the first ship in the new Ford-class of carriers, has been under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) since November 2009. It is on track to meet its scheduled launch in 2013 and delivery to the U.S. Navy in 2015. “We are doing a lot of prep work before erecting units,” said Shipwright Charles Banks. “Once we have all the prep work done, it makes the job a whole lot easier to stay on schedule. And when we’re working with the cranes, we have to be on time.” About 958 feet of the ship’s total 1,098-foot length is in dry dock, and the ship has been built up to the flight deck, which is about 100 feet above the baseline. About 32,000 tons of CVN 78’s total steel weight of 48,000 tons is currently in the dry dock. “The second shift does most of the large erections that go on the boat,”

said Shipwright Yogi Irwin. “We work hand-in-hand with the crane team. Some of the jobs we lift are 700-800 tons. You have to always be aware of what’s going on around you so nobody gets hurt and nothing gets damaged.” Of the 495 total structural lifts needed to complete the ship, 372 have been accomplished. Installing the aircraft launch and recovery systems will be under way soon. “This is easily the most fulfilling job in the shipyard. Every day you see new pieces being added to the ship, and when you leave you see something different,” said Shipwright Jack Mulligan. “It’s the culmination of everyone’s efforts, and we’re the people who get to put it on the ship.” About 2,600 shipbuilders are working around the clock on the ship today, and manpower is expected to peak at 3,000 before CVN 78 is completed.

Engaged g in the birdcage

“The birdcage team has simply become a model of excellence,” says Kenton Meland, pipe shop superintendent. “It is just a part of their culture. We give them goals, and they immediately set out to exceed them. Last year, I asked the team to bring this year’s cost down by 100 man hours; they brought it down by 1,000.” As Newport News Shipbuilding prepares to ramp up delivery of submarines to two per year, the team will have to build two birdcages per year instead of one. In order to meet that challenge, a consistent 25-week assembly (previously, the fastest time was 39 weeks) is needed. The birdcage team embraced the challenge, and over the last three submarines, reduced the cost in man hours by 35 percent. They also exceeded their goal of 25 weeks, finishing the birdcage in just 21 weeks with zero accidents. Even more impressive, they finished this year’s birdcage, with more than 1,200 joints to fit and weld, with zero quality errors. The four birdcage welders are new to the team, starting on the last birdcage just over a year ago. They follow the first-shift pipefitters, welding the joints during second shift. “The way first and second shift work together is really great,” says Brandon Neitzke, a second shift welder. “There is a give and take. We listen to each other, and it gives you a sense of pride to be on a team that works this well together.” John Perkins, a first-shift pipefitter with more than 10 years of birdcage experience, agrees. “When we get our job done right, the welder’s job becomes easier. Errors are caused by frustration, so we eliminate frustration. It’s all about attitude.” Nuclear Pipe Shop General Foreman Frank Wanderer, who oversees the birdcage assembly, said, “The two shifts are true partners, not competitors. We all track with the same easy-to-read goal charts. When we make our progress plain and simple, we unite around accomplishing those goals. We’re already looking for ways to cut another 15 percent off of our time.”

Every year, 14 fitters and welders assemble the torpedo room pipe assembly, or the “birdcage,” an impressive maze of pipes, gauges and valves that launch torpedoes for Virginia-class submarines (VCS). Equally as impressive is the assembly team’s continued high performance. For three years in a row, the birdcage team has exceeded their goals by significant percentages.

Bill McHenry, manager of organization development, interviewed members of the team at a luncheon celebrating their accomplishment this year. “The birdcage team is just one of the many engaged teams at the shipyard,” McHenry said. “This team has a feeling of family; many even know each other’s birthdays. It is amazing when you talk to guys who can’t wait to get to work each day, to see what they are then able to accomplish. They clearly see the link between enjoying their work and high performance.”

Pipefitter John Perkins has been building torpedo room pipe assemblies for more than 10 years, passing on his experience to newer employees. Photo by Chris Oxley

Shipbuilder Charles Ransom examines the recycled metal plates that were installed in the Blast and Coat West facility as a result of his cost-saving Opportunity for Improvement program suggestion. Photo by Ricky Thompson

Improving the Yard One Idea at a Time

Charles Ransom is no stranger to innovative ideas. In the past two years, he has submitted three ideas to the Opportunity for Improvement (OFI) program—the shipyard’s employee suggestion program. In 2011, Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) employees submitted more than 2,800 suggestions. Of those, 1,064 were approved and 788 were implemented. The OFI program has three award levels. Ideas from individuals or a team in the first two categories are awarded gift certificates and/or merchandise. An employee whose OFI reduces cost by $100,000 or more within a 12-month period receives $500. In addition, each year, the OFI program sponsors three to four promotions providing employees submitting qualified suggestions a chance to win prizes ranging from cash and gift cards to iPads and flat-screen televisions. Process owners are responsible for evaluating and determining OFI approval and implementation. “The program is a win-win for both the employee and the company,” said Yasmine Robinson, OFI program administrator. “Charles Ransom’s suggestion is a perfect example of a process improvement that the company was able to implement. As a result of the savings associated with his idea, Charles was awarded $500.” Ransom’s most recent OFI involves recycling scrap metal plates in lieu of purchasing new plates. “As a member of the Structural Fabrication and Assembly’s (SFA) Continuous Improvement Lead Team, I am always trying to find ways to uphold the four NNS pillars of safety, quality, cost and schedule.”

Last year, a new Blast and Coat West facility, the building Ransom works in, was built to increase the shipyard’s ability to process modules, units and other material. During this time, the building also received funds to install new steel plates to protect the flooring. In the past, Ransom has been involved in the disposition of material requests for NNS. His extensive knowledge of the process inspired him to question whether the materials being scrapped could be used elsewhere in the yard. “I found myself thinking that if the material is good enough for outside vendors to purchase, then would it be good enough for NNS to reuse?” he explained. “With the large volume of plates used at NNS, some have to be scrapped in the best interest of our company, but some materials can be recycled. I would have never found out if I didn’t ask.” Ransom contacted the Production Planning and Scheduling department to learn if any of the plates scheduled to be scrapped would meet the flooring requirements of the Blast and Coat West facility. “It wasn’t long before I received the answer I was waiting for,” Ransom said. “I was pleased that my OFI was approved, not to mention the $500 I received, but either way I would have still continued to find ways to make improvements.” Since Ransom’s OFI was approved, the Blast and Coat West facility’s flooring has been replaced entirely with scrap-metal plates. “I am happy to know that my idea was able to help the company,” he said. “I strongly urge other shipbuilders to submit their ideas as well. You might be surprised at the difference you can make.”

USS Abraham Lincoln How much does an in-service aircraft carrier weigh? Last December, naval architecture engineers from Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) boarded the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in San Diego to find out. The 14-person engineering team sailed with the CVN 72 crew for 16 days and more than 6,000 miles to Guam to conduct an Actual Operating Condition (AOC) Load Survey while the ship was on deployment. “The AOC survey provides the Navy with the total weight of the carrier,” said Alan Titcomb. “Items loaded after a ship is delivered to the Navy can have significant impacts on the weight and stability of the ship and its ability to accept new systems over its life.” Onboard, the NNS team spent 12 to 16 hours per day inventorying the weight and location of every load item carried by CVN 72. All items from aircraft to ammunition

to office supplies and personal belongings were surveyed. “One of the main factors in calculating the AOC of the ship is determining the amount of aviation fuel in the tanks,” said Frederick Brown. “To do this we had to manually check the fuel levels instead of relying on the Tank Level Indicator values. Since our team was not authorized to do this, we had to work directly with the CVN 72 crew to gather the information.” The NNS team worked both individually and jointly to make sure every item on the ship was documented. “We went through every compartment and determined what materials were ’lightship‘ or always part of the ship, and what materials were loaded items such as aircraft, food, weapons and fuel,” said Brown. “Since squadron equipment is not considered part of ‘lightship,’ when I

Weighs In entered the crew’s spaces I would always ask: ‘Was this here when you arrived or did you bring it onboard?’” The most challenging spaces to survey were the refrigerated storerooms. Normally, the storerooms are neatly loaded with bales of food, and there is plenty of space to walk around. However, since the ship was loaded for deployment, these spaces were packed to capacity. “Imagine having to crawl on top of tall pallets of frozen food, shimmy yourself across the top to the back of the space, lie on top of the frozen food and count the number of boxes of food while yelling out to someone who’s behind you with a clipboard and a survey sheet,” said David Cash.

The team completed the survey several days ahead of schedule and was catapulted off the ship in a carrier onboard delivery plane. “There is nothing like going from zero to 150 mph in 1.6 seconds,” said A. J. Bierbauer. “Overall, I think this survey was very successful. The data we obtained will be used by the Navy for years to come in order to accurately predict the weight of Nimitz-class ships.” CVN 72 will arrive at NNS early next year for its Refueling and Complex Overhaul.

Last December, Newport News Shipbuilding naval architecture engineers conducted an Actual Operating Condition Load Survey onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) to determine the weight of the carrier while in service. Jan. 2011 photo by U.S. Navy


Land Candy Matney rides high above the hubbub

Within 20 minutes of stepping into the shipyard’s Machine Shop in 1973, some men were telling Candy Matney that she didn’t belong there. Maybe her sugarysounding name and petite build made them think she couldn’t handle the work. They were wrong. And Matney, a red-headed, blue-eyed woman from Walton’s Mountain, didn’t care what they thought. “My dad used to tell me to go down there and show those men what you can do,” said Matney, who went on to become one of only a handful of women crane operators at Newport News Shipbuilding. What turned into a decades-long career, perched high above her co-workers, started when her boss asked her if she was afraid of heights. She said no. “And he said, ‘Good. You’re going up,’” Matney remembers. She’s been up ever since. Matney’s day usually starts with a four-story vertical climb to get to her “office” in the cab of the Machine Shop’s 100-ton bridge crane. That’s not her only office, though. Matney can operate any of the cranes in the shop. “Once you run a crane, they all come natural to you,” she said.   Insulated from the sounds below, she must look down for the rigger, whom she spots by the orange dot painted on the top of his hard hat. With guidance from his hand signals, she starts the day, lifting all types of ship parts, from water-tight doors to large pieces of torpedo tubes.

just have to be real careful and real slow. You take your time and you keep an eye on that rigger down there.”

Matney doesn’t get nervous, she said, even when she must lift a carrier’s propeller with its several milliondollar price tag, and lower it into an opening not much larger than the propeller itself.

In her spare time, Matney might be found riding one of her motorcycles, replacing the thrill of being suspended four stories with the fun of wind and speed. Riding is a passion she picked up while sharing her son’s dirt bike years ago.

“I’ve been doing it so long I’m used to it,” she said. “You

Her pets keep her busy as well. With nine dogs, a couple

Photo by Chris Oxley

of cats, a horse and several birds, she’s not lacking for company. She admits to having a big heart when it comes to animals, taking in any that might need a home. And her recent move to second shift leaves her days free to spend with them. Matney also finds joy in cooking, and her co-workers appreciate whatever goodies she brings in to work. Matney has outlasted most of her small group of colleagues who joined the shipyard with her more than

39 years ago. “I miss them,” she said. But retirement isn’t on her radar yet. She’d miss her job too much. “I’ll probably retire when I can’t climb anymore,” she said. “I like the cranes. I’ve been in them almost all my life. It was something different. It was a challenge.” Matney can take pride in the fact that she mastered a job many said she’d never be able to do. “When I first came in, they said women can’t run cranes,” she said. “I showed them.”

Hats OFF To Newport News Shipbuilding’s Volunteers

One of the most precious gifts a person can give is their time. We honor the more than 1,100 Newport News Shipbuilding volunteers who contribute their time to make a difference in our community. In recognition of National Volunteer Week, Newport News Shipbuilding encourages others to get involved–whether it be serving at a local shelter, coaching a youth program, building homes, or some other form of community outreach. We’re proud to be part of the Hampton Roads community, and we’re proud to build America’s greatest ships right here in Newport News. Shipbuilder volunteers pictured left to right: Ricardo Palacios, Terry Riley, Joyacelyn Harris, Isaih Harrison, and Ronita Yohe. Photo by John Whalen

This ad appeared in the April 16 edition of the Daily Press during National Volunteer Week.

Making a Difference

Giving the Gift of Life

For more than 50 years, Newport News shipbuilders have been helping others by donating blood to the American Red Cross. Each month, the shipyard hosts four blood drives at various locations around the yard. Doug Crockett, one of the many shipbuilders who regularly donate blood, is on track to give his 100th pint of blood this fall. “I have given 97 times and I plan to continue giving as long as I am eligible. Blood is a manmade gift that only humans can give to one another—that is why I donate.” Crockett, a second-shift employee, is so passionate about giving, he comes to work early to donate. “Several of my family members have been in need of blood, so I realize just how important the gift of blood truly is. Imagine if you were sitting in the emergency room with a loved one

who needed a blood transfusion, but there was no blood to offer them. You don’t want to be that person who didn’t give when you could have.” Last year, Newport News shipbuilders donated 959 pints of blood. According to the Red Cross, one pint of blood can save up to three lives. “If every shipbuilder donated one pint of blood, think about how many people we could help,” said Crockett. “The need for blood is ongoing, so I encourage everyone to give when they can.” Shipbuilders interested in giving blood should contact Brenda Roth at 757-380-3011 to schedule an appointment.

Doug Crockett, one of the many shipbuilders who regularly donate blood, is on track to give his 100th pint of blood this fall. Photo by Chris Oxley

Yardlines is published 10 times a year for the employees of Newport News Shipbuilding. This issue of Yardlines was produced by: Gina Chew-Holman, Troy Cooper, Mike Dillard, Christie Miller, Eugene Phillips, LaMar Smith, Peter Stern, Susan Sumner and Lauren Ward. Additional writing services by Barlow Communications. Photographs by: Chris Oxley, Ricky Thompson and John Whalen Send comments, questions and story ideas to Yardlines editor: or call 757-380-2627. To stop receiving Yardlines, go to to unsubscribe. Look for more news at






Jerry W. Baker 40 years

Bobby L. Boone 40 years

Merelyn Britton 40 years

Arthur R. Carr 40 years

Joseph L. Dickson III 40 years

Wayne D. Ellison 40 years

Alvin J. Fulgham 40 years

Levi Hicks Jr. 40 years

Lloyd H. Knight 40 years

James E. Mabine 40 years

Paul A. McGuire 40 years

Charles R. Morris 45 years

Johnnie R. Rainey 40 years

Claude Thompson Jr. 40 years

Samuel Ward Jr. 40 years

45 Years Karl D. Boyce O53 James E. Chapman X42 Charles R. Morris O38

Robert W. Arthur O43 Charles B. Berkley Jr. X18 Michael A. Blount X18 Samuel Brandon X31 Keron B. Brown X71 Allen R. Cathey X11 Marshall D. Claggett X36 Judy A. Clarke X33 Thomas H. Cullen K89 Marty W. Davis X42 Mailon J. Daye Jr. X18 Lorraine T. Douglas X33 Edward G. Dowdy II X10 Kirby L. Eley X11 James I. Folz X10 Roberta Y. Foster X11 Rose S. Godwin X10 Juanita L. Harris O51 Francis G. Hershley Jr. X18 Robert L. Hood X10 Doris Johnson O53 Vonley E. Johnson X18 Larry R. Jones X18 Miles W. Jordan X36 James Kea Jr. X11

James L. Kearney X88 Frank C. Kelsey Jr. X18 William J. Malonson X10 Samuel Mason Jr. X11 John T. McCormick O43 Shirley A. McNair-Carter O53 Garnell Melvin O26 Ronnie D. Monroe X31 Jimmy R. Mooney X18 Pamela P. Moore X32 David A. Newton E25 Genard I. Patrick E89 Percy C. Paxton X18 Sandra F. Pendergraft X33 Pamela E. Perry X33 Roderick Richmond X32 David Robinson Jr. X36 Eva M. Silver O45 Howard A. Smith X54 Larry A. Smith X18 Christopher B. Spellman X71 Clementine T. Tate X36 Rene J. Thomas O67 Frank K. Thrift III X54 Annette Z. Tobias X10

William F. Truitt O26 Joanne M. Ward O53 Ronnie L. Ward X18 Clyde A. Williams Jr. X33 Joseph H. Wilson X18 Phillip J. Wilson X88 Preston L. Wilson X36 Don W. Wynn X18

Barry Edwards X11 William J. Edwards III X11 James D. Evans X42 Gary P. Fuller X71 Larry D. Gardner Jr. X89 Peter J. Gravely X88 Darryl K. Green E84 Jonathan L. Harris X18 Paul A. Hodges E84 Russell S. Holland Jr. X18 Paul T. Hunt O39 William S. Inge K93 Richard S. Knight O39 Jimmy Leary N960 Edward E. Lemon X18 John E. Lilley Jr. O67 Kevin C. Mc Lane X88 David M. McAlpine E84 Kenton E. Meland M10 Michael K. Munday O64 William M. Nixon E25 Pamela K. Olson E25 Richard B. Ownby X36 Kevin M. Parcetich E17 Glenn E. Pruitt O53

Terry L. Ralston E81 Donna L. Reavis E07 Patricia Richardson O67 David E. Shortt O39 William L. Simmons X36 Joseph C. Simons X71 Phillip M. Smith O15 Terry L. Stall X71 Bruce A. Stinson O26 Elmer L. Swilley X10 Michael A. Taylor X43 Kevin W. Thomas O39 James B. Wheless O39 Dwight D. Wilson X71 Henry F. Wilson X36 Marty W. Womack X15

40 Years Jerry W. Baker X58 Bobby L. Boone X43 Merelyn Britton M53 Arthur R. Carr X75 Joseph L. Dickson III O39 Wayne D. Ellison O53 Alvin J. Fulgham X43 Edward O. Gregory X88 Levi Hicks Jr. M53 James E. Mabine X36 Paul A. McGuire X67 Johnnie R. Rainey X18 Kenneth E. Reddick M53 Claude Thompson Jr. X33 Samuel Ward Jr. X36 35 Years Ronnelle Ames X11 Steven W. Ames O53

30 Years Andrew J. Alfred III E12 Kenneth M. Bazemore O43 Michael S. Burns E51 Karen H. Cassell X89 Kenneth L. Chesson E83 Linda S. Cole T54 Carla M. Coleman E20 Michael B. Connell O68 Robert L. Costello O81 Ronald M. Creamer X71 Douglas L. Crockett X74 Stephen M. Dartt O51 Robert C. Davis O22 Ted N. Denney X11 Mark E. Dial T53

25 Years Mark C. Davis X58 Gary W. McCullough E14 Heide C. Welch E15 20 Years Stacey D. Chestnut X89 Demetria A. Futrell K78

The below list of shipbuilders celebrated 30 years of service with Newport News Shipbuilding in March. Their names were unintentionally omitted from the April Yardlines. 30 YEARS Felton A. Blowe O51 Robert F. Brunner E25 Bruce N. Cashwell O51

Linda M. Conner O57 Melvin R. Davidson O43 Roy E. Davidson O43 George M. Eason Jr. E17

Steven W. Hayes M30 Nancy L. Ivey T50 Michele M. Lynn E83 Henry B. McDduffie O68

Jerry W. Metcalf Sr. O64 Steven Meyerson E60 Sharon M. Nicholas X75 Michael L. Owen E82

Martin A. Phillips X71 Ernest M. Rastelli E81 Kevin Richmond X69 George A. Smith X11

Charles D. Truitt E85 Richard P. Wildman O39 Joseph H. Winfrey E18

Retirements March Wayne H. Abbott M53 Michael L. Barnes X82 Arnold W. Barnes X67 Ellen S. Campbell O19

Gary W. Campbell E82 Wardell J. Christopher X32 Martha R. Connor O53 Emelito T. Deguzman X31

James M. Evans X10 Charles A. Everett X11 George R. Frangowlakis X58 Dana N. Gobrecht E73

Lindora Gray O53 Edwin D. Heath Jr. E27 Paul R. Heaton E82 Columbus Newby X36

William W. Nuttall M40 Jasper J. Peoples X42 Michael L. Sutphin E17 Samuel A. Tilghman O14

Charles T. Whitmore X36 Freddie L. Williams X75 Dwight T. Woodcock X32

NNS Website Gets a Facelift Earlier this month, Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) launched a newly-designed website, introducing stronger branding, rich media and other key enhancements. The goal

is to make the website a better place to learn about the company and stay informed on current events.

• More dynamic images, graphics and enhanced content throughout the site.

“The new design not only improves the overall impression the website leaves, but adds several key enhancements,” says NNS Web Designer Peter Stern, who led the website redesign effort. “We continue to look for ways to use the Web effectively to represent the truly amazing business we are in.”

• Changes to enable a better viewing experience on mobile devices, multiple screen layouts (e.g., iPads), and all Web browsers.

Key enhancements include:

The new look has also been implemented by other Huntington Ingalls Industries websites. Go to to see the new design and explore the new features.

• A new area for print publications, photos, video and more.

• Navigation improvements, including a multi-site button that offers quick access to other HII websites (upper right corner).

Photo by John Whalen



4101 Washington Ave. Newport News, VA 23607

Yardlines is printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks.


May 2012

Look INside for the 2011 Report to the Community

HII Marks One-Year Anniversary Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) President and CEO Mike Petters celebrates HII’s first year of operations with members of the HII leadership team by ringing the New York Stock Exchange closing bell on March 29. During its first year, HII had sales of $6.58 billion and maintains a contract backlog of $16.3 billion as of Dec. 31, 2011. At the end of the March 29 trading session, HII stock closed at $40.00. Photo by John Whalen

Yardlines, May 2012  

Yardlines is a monthly magazine published ten times per year featuring Newport News shipbuilders and major events at the shipyard.