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IN THIS ISSUE Superlift completes Ford’s stern Building two subs per year


Photo by Ricky Thompson

Photo by Ricky Thompson

2011 Family Day

A Publication of Newport News Shipbuilding

October 2011

At precisely 10:00 a.m., NNS President Matt Mulherin sounded the shipyard train’s whistle to open the gates for the Sept. 24 Family Day. Gray skies and a few drops of rain didn’t put a damper on the festivities held to celebrate the shipyard’s 125th anniversary and recognize its 20,000 employees. For the first time in nearly 20 years, the shipyard grounds were open to shipbuilders and their family members to enjoy food, music, raffles, children’s rides, a bus tour of the yard, and a variety of special NNS exhibits. Demonstrating their shipyard pride and caring spirit, shipbuilders generously donated more than 1,500 pounds of food to the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula and raised more than $500 with a dunking booth for the Wounded Warrior Project as part of the event. These Family Day photos and more are available for viewing and downloading from home computers at



Shipbuilder Charles Bell concentrates as he uses a level to establish accurate measurements for the grating materials. Photo by Ricky Thompson

Thanks to installation of grating earlier in the construction process, outfitting of the four main pump rooms on Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is ahead of schedule and under budget. Pump room outfitting is nearly 12 months ahead of the same job performed on George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) before it was launched. Tom Sweeney Jr., the construction supervisor who coordinates all trades for the pump room outfitting, learned from building four carriers prior to CVN 78 that it is much easier and efficient to move material and equipment around with the grating installed. “The early grating installation provides a safer work area and it has allowed the rest of the outfitting team to begin their work ahead of schedule,” Sweeney said. After grating is installed in the pump rooms,

shipbuilders don’t have to climb on pipes and other equipment to complete their jobs. “Installing the grating provides a stable platform that makes it easier for other trades to accomplish their work in a safer manner,” said Grating Installer Charles Bell. For some trades, the grating is critical for them to do their jobs. The Pipe Department installs pipe and pipe hangers through and onto the grating, electricians hang wire way racks and lights under and above the grating, fitters attach vertical ladders to it and the sheet metal workers install foundations, lockers, stowages and work benches on it. “Working from the grating on a ladder instead of hanging staging is much safer,” said shipbuilder Mark Adams. He also points out that the grating serves another important role. “Sometimes the equipment’s measurements are calculated from the grating, and without grating installed, the electrical team would have to do the math from the baseline to figure out the equipment heights. Dimensioning errors would be more likely.” Bell added, “When it’s all said and done, it’s nice to have a level surface to walk and work on.”


One of the most rewarding career experiences for Sarah Engelbrecht and Don Brinkley II was being a part of the 16-member Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) team that assisted with the decommissioning of the Heavy Water Components Test Reactor (HWCTR) at the Savannah River Site (SRS). NNS helps to manage and operate SRS with partners of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC (SRNS). The test reactor, built in 1961 to develop fuel designs for use in heavy water power reactors, was fully operational until 1964. The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission closed the facility to redirect research to other areas. The doors to the reactor were welded shut and the facility was placed on a standby mode waiting for the final decommissioning. Nearly 45 years later, SRS asked NNS to assist with

the development of lifting and handling equipment, procedures, and processes for removing the facility’s heavy components. Together, the NNS team, the SRS and the Department of Energy were able to successfully complete the project under budget and ahead of schedule. “There were a lot of challenges working on equipment that was as old as the HWCTR reactor,” said Engelbrecht, an engineer on the NNS team. “Drawings were missing, some of the manufactures were no longer in existence, and no one who worked on the original construction was still around. We had to come up with creative ways to deal with the lack of information, and the more experienced members of the team gave me and the newer members a lot of insight into how to do that responsibly.”

During the actual decommissioning, the 85-ton containment dome, polar crane and reactor plant components were all removed. “Watching the dome as it was removed was the most exciting part of the project for me,” said Brinkley, who was the on-site production manager. “It presented our team with a sense of accomplishment and changed the SRS skyline.” Other components that had to be removed prior to closing the doors of the facility included the 100-ton reactor vessel, a five-foot wide concrete plug, 4,480 shield blocks, and two 18-ton steam generators. “I really gained a new respect for documentation,” said Engelbrecht. “It is so important to know what was done and why and to keep good records.”

“I enjoyed the challenges that came along with working on this project,” Brinkley reflected. “It presented me with an opportunity to improve my leadership, communication, presentation, project planning, and management skills. I will take the skills I learned from this project and put them to use every day back at the shipyard.” After removal, the heavy components were buried at the site and the HWCTR was leveled to the ground, filled with grout and capped off with concrete. The facility will continue to be monitored to ensure its safety.

Newport News Shipbuilding and Savannah River Site (SRS) teams work together to down end the decommissioned reactor vessel at the SRS site. Photo from SRS archives

The new submarine module outfitting facility will be operational in third quarter 2012. Photo by John Whalen.

The mood in the Module Outfitting Facility (MOF) was upbeat as news spread among shipbuilders that the plan to build two Virginia-class submarines (VCS) per year has officially started. For more than a year, shipbuilders at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) have been gearing up to double production from one to two submarines per year. The program officially kicked off on Sept. 2 with the announcement that construction of the 14th VCS ship, the yet-to-be-named SSN 787, has started. “This is something we look forward to accomplishing,” said shipbuilder Jacob Pope, who celebrates his ninth year working in the Virginia-class Submarine Program in December. “Our new facility is going up and we are anxious to move into it. We will have the room to increase production and we definitely have the experience to execute the construction plan.” The last major piece of structural steel for the new 65,000-square-foot Supplemental Module Outfitting Facility (SMOF) was erected in early October. The SMOF will be operational in the third quarter 2012 and will primarily be used for submarine final assembly and outfitting of the bow sections. The new structure will incorporate many design and facility improvements such as elevators, multi-purpose meeting rooms, dedicated off-hull trade space and platforms adjacent to build sites for better access. “As a team, Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat have been aggressive in identifying cost reduction opportunities and construction efficiencies that both enabled the authorization of two submarines per year and will support their continued cost effective and timely delivery to our Navy customer,” said Jim Hughes, NNS’ vice president of Submarines and Fleet Support. “We are eager to implement this build plan that will further strengthen our nation’s undersea force.”



On Sept. 12, Crane Operator David Rushing was at the controls of “Big Blue,” the shipyard’s 1050-metric-ton crane. From his perch 240 feet above the dry dock, his job was to lift into place an 825-ton superlift on Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) to complete the aircraft carrier’s stern. On the ground, more than 20 shipbuilders were at Dry Dock 12 helping to guide the unit into place. “This was one of the most successful stern lifts I have

been involved with and this is my sixth carrier,” Rushing said. “At 825 tons, we were at near capacity with this lift so a lot was involved to make it successful. Communication was key and one of the biggest elements.” We also had a great team that included engineering and the riggers, who I rely heavily on because they are my eyes on the ground. The entire Waterfront Services Department provided great support.”

The final superlift of the ship’s aft end includes the steering gear rooms, electrical power distribution room, store rooms and tanks. At 90 feet long, 120 feet wide and 30 feet deep, the pre-outfitted stern unit is among the largest of the total 162 superlifts that comprise Ford.

impressive is that the unit was erected over the rudders already positioned in the dry dock. Precision is of utmost importance in shipbuilding, and our shipbuilders went to great lengths to construct this lift and successfully hoist it into place.”

“This is among the top five largest superlifts in terms of dimension,” said Rolf Bartschi, NNS’ vice president of the CVN 78 Program. “What makes this lift especially

The 825-ton, pre-outfitted stern unit completes the Gerald R. Ford aft end. Photo by John Whalen.


When “Ms. Rich” told her team that they would have to install special insulation panels on the forward sections of Minnesota (SSN 783) and North Dakota (SSN 784) simultaneously, they thought she was joking. “Ms. Rich” is supervisor Patti Richardson who was in charge of the two jobs that were scheduled to be completed by the Virginia-class submarine (VCS) installation team at precisely the same time. “I really thought she was kidding about working two subs at once,” said VCS Installer Larenta Bullock. But the team quickly learned it was no joke, and they had a challenging job ahead of them. For almost four weeks, the seven-man team stepped up and secured hundreds of insulation panels to SSN 783 and SSN 784. The team successfully completed both jobs on schedule, under budget and without a single accident. Shipbuilders Treviyon Artis, Larenta Bullock, Costen Johnson, Otis Proctor, Mahlon Tibbs, Anthony Tisdale and Kevin White passed panels they could move by hand in an assembly line fashion from the ground up to the scaffolding to be attached to the submarines’ forward sections. More than 130 panels weighing 30 - 70 pounds were passed and lifted by hand. “Once we were clear on what needed to be done, we just went to work,” Tibbs said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we knew our team was up to the challenge.” Johnson said, ”Communication between the team was really important. Although we were doing double what we normally would do, we still had to put safety first. We are a tight-knit family and it was important that no one on the team was hurt.” Crane operators and riggers Jess Eicher, Joseph Bruce, Sam Ward, Ernest Blount and Charles Overton provided

the support the team needed to hoist heavier panels weighing more than 700 pounds. “The teams accomplished something that has never been done before,” Richardson said. “This is a testament to their dedication. These workers own the job. They stay on top of all material required to perform the job, and they ensure that everyone knows and is doing their part.”

“We had to take ownership for the project,” Tibbs said. “The panels are not cheap and we hate to do re-work. Our focus on doing a quality job is one of the reasons we continue to come under budget.” The team also credits its success to the support it received from the second-shift crew led by Heinz “H.D.” Trulley and the second-shift support trades.

“The teamwork was strong and we really trusted each other,” Tisdale said. “We did what we had to do to keep the project on schedule. I’m proud of what we accomplished. When I signed off and put my name on a panel, I knew it was right.” Anthony Tisdale and Larenta Bullock, members of the seven-man team that simultaneously installed panels on submarines Minnesota and North Dakota. Photo by Ricky Thompson

A Tale of the

Cranes This feature is the seventh in a series of articles commemorating the shipyard’s 125th anniversary.

the big blue gantry crane that spans Dry Dock 12, the largest crane in the western hemisphere, can hoist up to 1,050 metric tons.

If cranes could talk, they could easily recount the history of Newport News Shipbuilding. Cranes have been used to build ships at the yard for as long as shipbuilders have.

“Big Blue” has dominated the shipyard’s skyline for nearly 35 years. It has hoisted aircraft carrier units into the dry dock since 1982. Today, as carrier units have grown in size and heft, the crane uses enough electricity to power 160 homes when lifting its maximum load.

And cranes in the shipyard’s Machine Shop, one of the shipyard’s oldest buildings, would have the most to say. The shop has four bridge cranes that have been in service for more than 100 years. One particular bridge crane that stands in Bay 2 has been operating since 1902.

Before Big Blue, the shipyard’s and nation’s largest gantry crane spanned shipways 10 and 11. The 19-story tall behemoth could lift 310-ton loads. It was so large that the 4-million-pound structure was floated to the shipyard, pulled by a tugboat from the St. Lawrence Seaway. This crane was used to build the first three Nimitz-class carriers in Dry Dock 11. A barnacle that attached itself to the crane during the trip in 1970 is still hanging on today.

There are more than 200 bridge cranes at the shipyard, but when you add in the gantry cranes, the goliath gantries, mobile cranes, hammerhead and whirler cranes, the number jumps to nearly 600.

For 125 years, employees, who now number in the thousands, have spent their days operating these cranes and performing countless hours of maintenance to keep them running. Big Blue alone has three miles of wire rope, which is checked out during the 5,800 rope inspections performed each year.

Shipyard cranes range in size from small to gargantuan, a necessity as ships changed from wooden, stickbuilt structures to 90,000-ton steel giants. Machine Shop cranes range in capacity from the smallest, at 330 pounds, to more than 20 tons, while

In 2011, shipyard cranes will have performed more than 1.1 million crane lifts. And for the last century and longer, each lift has helped tell the story of another ship coming to life. The 140-ton revolving, electrically powered jib crane lifts the cage mast for the battleship Pennsylvania in 1915.

Photo by Chris Oxley

History Maker:

Luther Peacock

It was a love of sports that brought Luther Peacock to Newport News Shipbuilding. A chance to play football and baseball made The Apprentice School an enticing place to go after high school in North Carolina.

“I came to the drawing room and the rest is history,” he said. From that point forward Peacock worked on USS Enterprise, Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, Los Angeles-class and Seawolf submarines, commercial ships and the Gerald R. Ford carriers.

“I thought I would make baseball a career. Little did I realize that wouldn’t work out and I would have to work for a living,” Peacock said with a laugh. He was named captain of his baseball team, but it would be shipbuilding that would occupy the next 50 years.

“While in the yard I got hands-on experience. So when I came to the drawing room, I could put ideas on paper. I could visualize things,” he said. “That was a great asset.”

He started out as a shipfitter and spent several years in the yard building ships. In 1965, he was drafted by the military, but returned to the shipyard two years later. It was then that he entered design.

For Peacock, who had a hand in designing the Olympia submarine, the ship’s sea trials was a highlight of his career. “It was exciting to go out on something where I felt so secure,” he said. “I felt a lot more secure on that sub than the first airplane I went on. We don’t leave any t’s uncrossed or any i’s undotted when you do

this work. It’s rewarding to see what you have done become a part of something that helps the nation.” Today, Peacock is designing upgrades for the Los Angeles-class commissioned ships, a familiar job that takes him full circle in his career. The 54-year veteran occasionally thinks about retirement, but hasn’t committed to an end date for his shipbuilding career. “I live and die shipbuilding and have enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve worked with a lot of good people and we’ve helped one another and gotten through some hard spots and some easy spots,” Peacock said. “If I didn’t enjoy getting up and coming in, I wouldn’t be here today.”

FROM TOOL Yesterday’s necessities are becoming today’s collectors’ items, and shipyard tool checks are no exception. Collectors inside and outside of the shipyard have taken an interest in the small tokens that in their day were a necessity for having the tools to get a shipyard job done. Today, they are a piece of shipyard history—and an object stirring bidding wars on websites like E-Bay. Tool checks have sold for as much as $25. In the 1940s, shipbuilders carried a round badge displaying the shipbuilder’s photograph and employee number that was presented in order to borrow tools from the shipyard’s inventory. In the late 1960s, tool checks took the form of a brass disk the size

Photo by John Whalen

toTreasure of a quarter. Stamped on the disk was a number that matched the shipbuilder’s paycheck number, and later displayed employees’ social security numbers. The shiny disk hung from every shipbuilder’s keychain until the early 1970s when brass disks were ditched for plastic cards that were run through a manual credit card machine when tools were checked out.

“That was the biggest mess,” recalled Ken Rountree who works in the Waterfront Support Services department of the credit card system. “Half the time the card scanner would only read half the numbers on the card. But at the time, that’s all we had.”

Change was inevitable with the increasing use of computer technology in the late 1970s—and Rountree found himself right in the middle of it. In fact, the tool room was the first area of the shipyard to implement an online system and Rountree worked with a computer programmer to help design the first system. The tool room of today continues to operate electronically. Instead of the round photo badge or brass disk of yesteryear, shipbuilders flash their badge to check out shipyard tools— another shipbuilding necessity today that may turn into tomorrow’s treasure.



Dean Ashe 40 years

Hollis Boone 40 years

David Boucher 40 years

Benjamin Bowers Jr. 40 years

C.M. Buck 40 years

Terry Cason 40 years

Jim Chappell 40 years

Rick Chisholm 40 years

Alvin Ely 40 years

Jay Tee Faulk 40 years

Chops Hall 40 years

Ed Hall 40 years

Jim Hicks 40 years

Leogie Hicks 40 years

Gene Hopson 40 years

Ron Hunter 45 years

Mark Lewis 40 years

Herbert Moore Jr. 40 years

Bill O’Donnell 40 years

Willie Petterson 40 years

Dave Puckett 40 years

Jerry Richardson 45 years

David Ritter 40 years

Curtis Sledge 45 years

Daryl Snyder 40 years

Frank Stutts 40 years

Gravy Vaillancourt 40 years

Dee Watson 40 years

Charlie White 40 years

Leon Williams 40 years

Long Service MASTER SHIPBUILDERS 50 YEARS Hampton V. Snidow Jr. E75 45 YEARS Conrad C. Dellinger Jr. X10 Ronald D. Hunter X70 Jerry B. Richardson X31 John J. Roberts X32 Curtis Sledge O39 40 YEARS Ernest L. Anderson X43 Perry M. Bailey X18 Hollis D. Boone X36 David R. Boucher X58 Benjamin Bowers Jr. A572 Silvester L. Browning X71 Chip M. Buck X33 Terry W. Cason X82 James P. Chappell O19 Richard L. Chisholm O53 Aaron L. Dove X31 Alvin R. Ely X36 John T. Faulk X31 John Fitchett X15

Charlie C. Hall O38 Edward W. Hall Jr. X76 Leon R. Harris X18 Leogie Hicks X42 James E. Hicks Jr. T53 Rosita E. Holley O14 Gene E. Hopson X42 Larry R. Lewis X42 Neal A. McNeill O31 Herbert L. Moore Jr. X32 William G. O’Donnell E83 Reginald L. Owens O64 Wallace R. Paige O46 Charlie L. Parker Jr. X71 Willie R. Peterson X11 Charles A. Pierce X33 Bennie T. Plessinger II X42 Otis M. Proctor Jr. X33 David L. Puckett X82 David C. Ritter X89 Nelson A. Rivera X71 Leroy Roach Jr. O53 Randolph M. Scott X42 Daryl G. Snyder X70 Vernon F. Stutts O22

SEPTEMBER Roland Vaillancourt Jr. X36 Demetrius E. Watson O14 Charles E. White E25 Leon Williams X36 35 YEARS Mark P. Ayres E85 William A. Banks X33 Ronnie L. Batten X36 Laverne D. Boone X36 Howard Brooks X33 Herbert M. Carter M30 Bruce E. Coffey O57 Michael J. Cunneen X10 Larry L. Davis X18 Annette D. Eley X33 Marion L. Elliott E19 Robert E. Eshbach E81 James F. Frazier X18 Bruce E. Good E07 Wallace Johnson X32 Phillip L. Keys X33 Tony W. Liptrap X88 Wayne E. Lucas O22 Johnny T. Marsh X18

Gary T. McCrickard O26 William L. Murphy E51 Joey L. Perry M53 Walter J. Perry X18 Michael E. Ponton X42 Hue H. Richardson Jr. X33 Pamela J. Rowe X71 David L. Rushing X36 Lyniol C. Scott Jr. X43 Lewis R. Shackelford X42 Harold V. Stanley Jr. X18 Patricia J. Stewart E81 John M. Turner X36 Anthony G. Vasko X36 Earnest M. Widgeon Jr. O46 William P. Wiggins Jr. X32 Thomas A. Wilson Jr. X71 Cloyd R. Winebarger X31 30 YEARS Steven S. Bennett O39 David L. Blevins X43 Mark G. Bowman E24 George R. Burak E49 Robert C. Burke E84

George E. Callis E27 Thomas F. Curtin X42 Joseph D. Cuthrell E26 Angela M. Cypress K70 Christopher P. Durand E83 Bruce S. Fisher X82 Mary A. Genua O48 Ronald C. Goodwin Jr. X36 Stephen L. Haywood X18 Leon Holloman O15 Marguerite W. Johnson E12 Mark J. Lauffenburger E26 Thomas E. Manley X73 Constance Massenburg O95 Michael F. Masters X88 Lisa W. Mayer E15 Robert P. Meyer X80 Gary D. Peck E58 Roger L. Peckham X75 Alonzo G. Ricks O15 Kim S. Rideout X82 Sharon D. Robbins E07 James E. Smiley E15 Pollard A. Waller X71 Debra L. Whitaker O51

John E. White III X43 Joseph K. Wilburn Jr. X58 Charles L. Wilkerson O15 25 YEARS Richard A. Charles O19 Mark A. Deese E62 Timothy K. Kahler X36 Edward A. Marshall X58 Warren A. Patrick X54 Beth A. Pyles E65 Steven R. Schmitt O37 Michael R. Stronach E82 Robert K. Warthan E82 Jesse W. Wyatt Jr. X42 20 YEARS Howard W. Borum III E79 Stephen T. Cottle X18 Sean P. Dolan N940 Keith D. Jones O43 Kimita M. Lassiter E39 Clifton B. Marshall Jr. X88 Matthew V. Poteat X88 Terry L. Smith N260

Retirements AUgUST Albert M. Bond X42 Karen A. Chuyka X82 Matthew J. Davis E23 Dallas J. Dempsey Jr. X18 Larry D. Evans X42

Jon H. Fagan N206 Robert L. Hudgins O88 Curtis R. Irby O43 Sadie L. Johnson O53 James M. King X36

Clarence McLoyd X42 Bevely L. Mingee Jr. O53 Henry L. Moore X75 John E. Murza Jr. T54 James A. Pesar E69

James F. Powell X87 Beverly J. Sawyer X73 Alfred T. Spiller X31 Dorothy S. Taylor X67 Frankie E. Thrower X32

Mark L. Turnage III E43 Richard M. Waddy X42 Calvin E. White X33 Sandra C. White E18 Robert E. Wilson X32

Grace M. Wood E15

Yardlines is published 10 times a year for the employees of Newport News Shipbuilding. This issue of Yardlines was produced by: Jeremy Bustin, Gina Chew-Holman, Mike Dillard, Christie Miller, Eugene Phillips, LaMar Smith, 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. Look for more news at HIIndustries

Huntington Ingalls Industries




4101 Washington Ave. Newport News, VA 23607

October 2011

Back to School


Shipbuilders collected more than 22,000 school supplies during the annual two-week “School Tools” drive in August. The supplies, which included 9,418 pencils, 4,110 ball point pens, 1,766 erasers and 850 packs of paper, were collected from across the shipyard. On Sept. 9, shipbuilder volunteers sorted and delivered the supplies to area departments of social services, Newport News Public Schools Administration and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula as part of United Way’s Day of Caring. Approximately 1,000 local students will benefit from the supplies collected.

“I have helped coordinate the NNS IT drive for more than 10 years,” said Joanne Watkins. “This year, our division held hot dog sales in July and August to raise money to purchase supplies for the drive. Our phrase is, “It’s for the kids, keep the change!” Without that generosity, we would not be able to provide the enormous amount of supplies for the children that are so desperately in need!” “We are proud of our employees’ generous spirit that has built a successful School Tools program,” said Chavis Harris, director, EEO, Diversity, and Corporate Citizenship. “We don’t work to just build ships in Newport News – we work to build our community. We are proud to participate in this important initiative.” For the United Way Day of Caring, NNS’ Tommy Cragg helped deliver 22,000 school supplies donated by Newport News Shipbuilders. Photo by John Whalen

Yardlines, October 2011  

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