In This Issue New RCOH Facility Opens CVN 78 Celebrates Island Landing
Photo by John Whalen
President Obama Visits Shipyard
A Publication of Newport News Shipbuilding
A Historic Barack Obama Makes ADay Historic Visit President
More than 3,000 Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) employees and guests filled the Supplemental Modular Outfitting Facility (SMOF) on February 26 to hear remarks by President Barack Obama. During the president’s first visit to the shipyard, he toured the SMOF to see Virginia-class submarine work with HII President and CEO Mike Petters, NNS President Matt Mulherin and Director of VCS Construction Bob Meyer. “It’s a great chance to see the incredible men and women who, every single day, are helping to keep America safe and are just the bedrock of this country’s manufacturing base,” Obama said. “Thank you to all of you.” The president came to the shipyard to highlight the importance of the Congress passing a budget and the impact sequestration would have on the defense industry, suppliers and Virginia. Before the president spoke, Process Improvement Analyst Lauren Keeter led the Pledge of Allegiance and VCS shipbuilder Philip McCoy sang the national anthem. “I think it was a really incredible opportunity… to say the pledge, and even more amazing that he came to our facility,” said Keeter. “It’s definitely not something that happens every day, so it was really wonderful to be a part of it.” Vincent Sinclair, a Master Shipbuilder who has worked at the shipyard for 56 years, met the president backstage. “It was a great honor to meet him and I couldn’t be more proud, than I am right now to be a Newport News shipbuilder,” Sinclair said. Second-shift Shipfitter Kevin Artis said, “It was awesome to know that the president is on our side and proud of what we do. The opportunity to see a president at the shipyard doesn’t come around very often, and I’m glad I was here to see it.” To see photos and more coverage of the president’s visit, go to www.huntingtoningalls.com/nns. On February 26, an aircraft carrier propeller and shipbuilders were the backdrop for President Obama’s remarks to more than 3,000 Newport News Shipbuilding employees. Photo by Ricky Thompson
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Approximately 300 guests stood on the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) flight deck to witness the January 26 island landing ceremony – the latest construction milestone for the first ship in a new class of nuclearpowered aircraft carriers.
Rolf Bartschi, vice president of CVN 78 construction, opened the program that included remarks by Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin; Prospective Commanding Officer Capt. John Meier; Rear Adm. Ted Branch, commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic; and Ship’s Sponsor Susan Ford Bales, the daughter of the late President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford. Ford Bales, who had arrived a day earlier to tour the ship and have lunch with shipbuilders, praised the CVN 78 craftsmen. "Shipbuilders – thank you for your extraordinary work," she said. "You are a national treasure. Thank you very much." When it was time to move the island, Lead Crane Rigger Curtis Eley handed his radio to Ford Bales so she could signal for the lift to begin. “Lift and move the island,” Ford Bales said through the radio to “Big Blue’s” Crane Operator, Dave Rushing.
“This is the sixth carrier I’ve built,” said Eley. “I’m happy to have had a role in today’s ceremony. I can’t wait to sit down with my grandkids to tell them all about this exciting day.” During the 20 minutes it took to position the 555-metric-ton island on the flight deck, Eley was in constant communication with Rushing and the rigger team. Inches before the island was to touch down, Eley signaled the crane operator to stop for the last part of the ceremony. Mulherin, Meier, Branch and Ford Bales took turns placing commemorative items that included coins and aviator wings under the island. This tradition, also known as a mast-stepping, dates back to ancient Rome where coins were put under the mast of a ship to ensure safe passage and good luck. Ford Bales placed under the island a piece of sandstone embedded with a unique coin she designed for this occasion, as well as five official seals representing her father's service to the
(Turn next page to continue reading) The 60-foot-long, 30-foot-wide island was the 149th superlift of the 162 total superlifts needed to complete the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). The ship is about 90 percent structurally complete. Photos by Ricky Thompson
"Big Blue" On a typical work day, Dave Rushing gets up, drives to work and walks through the gates of the shipyard, just like thousands of other shipbuilders. Then he climbs some stairs, rides up a tiny two-man elevator, and steps outside to walk across the top of the crane, 233 feet above the ground. He then climbs down a long descending staircase and lowers himself into a small room, which looks like a large helicopter cockpit. Rushing is the operator of one of the world’s largest gantry cranes, nicknamed “Big Blue.” On the morning of January 26, during the island landing ceremony, Rushing’s keen eyes calmly survey the flight deck of the aircraft carrier below. The island is on the platen beside the dry dock, already hooked up to the crane… waiting to be lifted. Suddenly, the quiet room is filled with the sound of a female voice coming through the radio: “David, this is Susan Ford Bales. Lift and move the island.” “Ten-four. Hoisting the island,” Rushing calmly responds as he checks all the settings before beginning the lift. After confirming with Lead Crane Rigger Curtis Eley that everything on the ground is ready, he turns on the crane siren and begins to hoist the giant unit, which weighs a solid 555 metric tons. Over the next 20 minutes, Rushing, guided by the riggers below, brings the island to within inches of its exact destination on the flight deck of CVN 78. | By Peter Stern
Ship's Sponsor Susan Ford Bales places a block of sandstone embedded with a unique coin she designed for the island landing ceremony, as well as five official seals representing her father's service to the nation, alongside coins and aviator wings placed by other program participants. Photo by John Whalen
(Ford Island Landing continued)
nation. The sandstone is the same stone used in the construction of the White House and the U.S. Capitol. “I wouldn’t have missed the island landing for anything,” said Design Engineer Randy Burak, who began working on Ford’s design in 1996 when the ship was still in the conceptual phase and called CVX. “It’s good to see our efforts materialize and become a reality.” Coatings Manager Brent Wiggins and Painter Charles Pierce also stood back to admire the island. Days before the celebration, the two shipbuilders, using eight gallons of three different shades of gray paint, a small roller and a brush, painted the 16-foot, 2-inch-tall hull numbers on the island. “This paint job is completely different from the white numbers on other carriers,” said Pierce. Hull number paint isn’t the only thing that makes the Ford island different from previous carriers. For the first time, a new fiber-optic lighting system is being used to illuminate the hull number instead of the individual light bulbs on Nimitz-class carriers. Ford’s island is also redesigned to incorporate the latest technology in flat-panel-array radar systems and dual-band radar. It is shorter in length but stands 20 feet taller than islands on previous aircraft carriers. Its placement is 140 feet farther aft and 3 feet farther outboard than previous carriers to improve flight deck access for aircraft operations. “This is not your father’s aircraft carrier,” said Meier. “Virtually everything is new, with the exception of the skin of the ship.” | By Gina Chew-Holman
Shipbuilding in Puget Sound
Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) has always been home to fourth-generation shipbuilder Kevin Thomas. Nearly 30 years ago when he walked through the shipyard gates for the first time, he was accompanied by two of his closest family members – his mother and grandmother, both also shipbuilders at NNS. Today, his shipyard family circle includes his wife, Regina Thomas and son Shawn Thomas.
Kevin Thomas’ life took an unexpected turn in August 2012, when he accepted an assignment to oversee quality inspections aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) – a job that NNS’ Quality Inspection Department had never taken part in outside of the shipyard gates. At the time, Reagan was docked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington State.
said Thomas. “Our primary job was verifying technical work documents (TWD) on the carrier, which consisted of clearances and certifications. We also conducted inspections to ensure that the piping and valves had been maintained and cleaned properly.” For four months, the team worked side-by-side with Navy inspectors assigned to Reagan. “The workload was constant,” said Geoff Wilson, lead inspector for the NNS team. “We inspected anywhere from four to six TWDs a day. The entire team was great to work with; everyone came together to ensure that the inspections were completed on time so that Reagan would be ready to leave port when scheduled.”
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that shipbuilding would take me out to the West Coast,” said Thomas. “NNS has always felt like home to me. The fact that I would be so far away from my family and colleagues made me skeptical about taking advantage of the opportunity – but I’m glad I did.”
In December, the team returned to the East Coast following completion of inspections aboard CVN 76. “For other shipbuilders contemplating opportunities to work on projects away from Newport News – go for it,” Thomas said. “This opportunity has not only opened doors for NNS, it has expanded my career opportunities. I think the entire team is happy with the way this project worked out.” | By Lauren Ward
On August 25, Thomas and 13 other NNS inspectors boarded a plane and began the 3,000-mile journey to Washington. “We didn’t waste any time getting to work,”
Fourth-generation shipbuilder Kevin Thomas was part of the 13-person NNS team that conducted quality inspections aboard USS Ronald Reagan while it was docked in Puget Sound late last year. Photo by Chris Oxley
On February 5, the new Consolidated Trades Building (CTB) opened its doors in a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new modern office complex alongside Dry Dock 11 will be home for the In-Services Carrier Programs Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) team. The building replaces more than 30 portable office units, bringing more than 400 trades supervisors and support staff working on RCOH projects together under one roof. “It’s going to take away all the division and separation and silos that we used to have and put us together as one family and one team, or as I like to call it – one mind, one heartbeat,” said Director of Manufacturing Ray Bagley. “Instead of having to run around to different locations, this facility brings us all together, and we can communicate and get the job done more effectively,” said Sheet Metal Foreman Katrina Tyler. The CTB comprises an open floor plan on three floors and was assembled using a modular construction technique, similar to the construction of aircraft carriers and submarines. Uniquely designed, the first floor stands one story above ground level, providing a covered area for storage of bicycles and toolboxes. Picnic tables have also been included in this covered area to provide shipbuilders another place to eat during lunch and dinner breaks. “Quality of life was the first consideration for all the shipbuilders who will work here,” said Vice President of Navy Programs Ken Mahler. Recent openings like the CTB, the Supplemental Modular Outfitting Facility and the Management Development Center are examples of the shipyard’s commitment and dedication to improving working conditions and boosting employee morale. “It’s a very careful and deliberate thing that we’re doing to invest back in the people that invest in this company that helps us do such great work – building and overhauling and refueling the world’s most magnificent warships,” said Vice President of Operations Danny Hunley. | By Jeremy Bustin
The new Consolidated Trades Building (CTB) stands above ground level, revitalizing the workspace for Refueling and Complex Overhaul workers. Photo by Chris Oxley
If a ship had a list of ingredients written on its side, the first ingredient would not be surprising – steel. The second ingredient might surprise a lot of people, though. The number two ingredient on a ship is paint, or some kind of applied coating, and the shipbuilders who apply these coatings are an adaptable bunch… by necessity. One day could find them under a ship, painting on their backs. The next day could have them on a scaffold, spraying paint 100 feet above the ground. “They could wind up anywhere from tight areas to outside, painting the hull,” says Cassandra Burks, product trainer for Surface Preparation and Treatment. “Also, people don’t realize that the overall tonnage of the ship is directly affected by the thickness of the coatings applied by the sprayers.” Getting the thickness right ultimately depends on spraying technique. Burks recently worked with Engineering to introduce a simulator that trains new sprayers on the fundamentals without wasting any actual paint. Almost like playing Nintendo® Wii™, trainees hold the spray nozzle, point it at the screen, pull the trigger and it starts spraying back and forth. The simulator then scores them on their spraying technique, showing them where they missed a spot or where the paint is too thick. “For the first time, we have baseline data on an incumbent’s spraying technique prior to introducing him or her to the practical application in training. This allows us to provide additional training.” says Burks. “I’ve seen a lot of simulations, but this is the first one I’ve seen that is very near to the process.” | By Peter Stern Shipbuilder Jim Morris demonstrates the paint simulation tool developed by Newport News Shipbuilding trainers and engineers for Surface Preparation and Treatment. Photo by Chris Oxley
Honored in Washington
Just blocks away from the White House in Washington, D.C., five Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) engineers were recognized on February 8 at the 27th Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Global Competitiveness Conference. During the three-day BEYA event, attended by more than 8,000 people, the shipbuilders‘ achievements were celebrated at the Modern-Day Technology Leaders Lunch that was held in their honor. “We are extremely proud of this year’s BEYA award recipients,” said Bill Bell, vice president, Human Resources and Administration. “Being recognized among the top echelons of engineering professionals in this country is quite an honor and achievement. We appreciate their talent and leadership as well as the contributions these distinguished engineers make each and every day to Newport News Shipbuilding.” | By Gina Chew-Holman Photographed outside Huntington Ingalls Industries headquarters (L to R): Bernard Johnson Jr., Denise Martin, Robert Walker III, George Holmes Jr. and Tennyson Garrett. Photo by Chris Oxley
A casual conversation with a co-worker drastically changed the course of Ron Willis' career at Newport News Shipbuilding.
Willis. And in 1979 he became one of only a handful of Sign Shop employees, and the only one working night shift.
Willis, who had studied commercial art in college, came to the shipyard in 1976. A native of Newport News, the 20-year-old started out installing temporary lighting, and eventually moved to the Surface Preparation and Treatment Department, where his work often carried him shipboard.
"It really paid off," said Willis. "That was my field. It was right down my line."
One day he happened to mention his art degree, and a co-worker told him about the shipyard's Sign Shop. "I didn't even know the shipyard had a Sign Shop," said
Willis began cutting stencils and making all kinds of signs used throughout the shipyard. He was also silk-screening all types of clothing, like T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets, emblazoning them with the company's logo. "I made every type of sign in the shipyard, regardless of size or color," said Willis. That included everything from "No Smoking" to "Do Not Enter" to the enormous stencils
for the lettering on the yard's iconic blue gantry crane that spans Dry Dock 12. "Anything over two inches we had to draw it out by hand and then cut it," he said. Willis' work also acquainted him with a variety of ships, because he provided the stencils for the draft markings as well as the ships' names. "I've done a few hulls in my day – subs, carriers, frigates and ocean liners." Today, Willis works in the Metal Finishing Shop, but still does the occasional sign. "I'm the last original shipyard sign painter," said Willis,
who added that computers and vinyl press-on letters are slowly eliminating the need for hand-cut stencils. "A computer is a whole lot faster than sitting at a drafting table," he said. Willis is planning to retire in about five years or so. In the meantime, he can reflect on a very satisfying career, born at a young age when he used to draw what he'd see in comic books. | By Kelly Barlow
Ron Willis, the last original sign painter, reminisced about stencils and signs he created by hand for Newport News-built ships during his 37-year career at the shipyard. Photo by Chris Oxley
Women’s History Project Takes Off
A few years ago when a group of women wanted to put together a program to celebrate Women’s History Month, they discovered there wasn’t a single source or book about the early contributions of women at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS).
book, “The Historical Journey of the Women of Newport News Shipbuilding.” Shipbuilders Sarah Gentry, Karen Govan, Nancy Hill, Tina Howell, Marlene Johnson, Lorrie Peckham and Jeralyn Richardson couldn’t resist getting involved in the project. Their volunteer efforts have made progress documenting personal stories, interviewing shipbuilders and digging through stacks of shipyard bulletins dating back to 1919.
“There is limited documentation on the journey of women working in the shipyard,” said Melynda Roberts, who along with Marcia Downing, helped launched an effort to compile historical data on NNS women. “There have been articles in the past two years highlighting the achievements and journey of some of our women shipbuilders, but there is a still a lot of history yet to be discovered.”
“I recently found the name of the first woman hired at NNS,” Roberts said after reading a 1927 bulletin. “Her name was La Vara Vaughn and she was hired on September 3, 1902, as a switch board operator. It was an exciting discovery.”
The group’s quest and passion to learn more about the shipyard women who came before them gave birth to a new project and proposed
To share information and documents with the project or to help with research and writing, send an email to WomenShipbuilders.Projects@hii-nns.com. | By
Since announcing in January that the project was in full swing, the group has begun receiving emails from employees who have found documents and photographs buried in their attics and among their relatives’ belongings that they’d like to contribute. “Documenting the contributions and journey of women at NNS will provide a historical manuscript that will add to the history of the company, community, and shipbuilding,” said Howell. “We hope more employees and individuals will get involved.”
Nurse Mary A. Henderson joined the company in 1910 and served as the only nurse until the Dispensary was expanded in 1918 and she was joined by six other women – four registered nurses and two bookkeepers. Photo from Newport News Shipbuilding Archives
Making a Difference
The Business of Fighting Fires
It seems like yesterday when Production Scheduler Jeremiah Jefferson first heard the news that his relatives' house had caught fire and burned to the ground with his cousin inside. "It's one of those memories you can't forget... will never forget," said Jefferson, a 12-year-old boy at the time. "Our community learned that the 15 minutes it took for the fire department to reach my community was one of the main reasons my cousin didn't survive." From that point forward, Jefferson made it his priority to see that something was done to prevent similar accidents from recurring in his small county in Isle of Wight. "I became one of 18 founding members of a new fire station," he said. "It wasn't easy getting support for the station. However, we prevailed and with much prayer, Rushmere's Station 30 became a reality."
Over the next 22 years, Jefferson stayed active with Station 30 and was elected president of the station in 2005. "It's been a blessing to see the station come to life before my eyes. We've gone from having nothing to having a diverse group of 35 firefighters and the equipment needed to safely fight fires." In addition to being on call 24-7, fundraising events take up most of Jefferson's spare time. "We are responsible for much of the station's funding," he said. "We also educate children on fire safety, and we're constantly trying to make a difference in the community. A strong passion for this work is essential if you're in the business of fighting fires." I By Lauren Ward Master Shipbuilder and volunteer firefighter Jeremiah Jefferson stands in front of "Tanker 30" one of Rushmere Fire Department's three fire trucks. Photo by Ricky Thompson
Long Service MASTER SHIPBUILDERS
Leroy Bell 40 years
Sam Bent 40 years
Moses "Moe" Brown 40 years
Leaster Brown Jr. 40 years
Ora Council 40 years
Dennis Crump 40 years
Marion "Dave" Davis 40 years
Walter "Teddy" Day 40 years
Alvin Eason 40 years
Leary Futrell 40 years
Johnny Giles 40 years
Sharon Harris 40 years
Ray Ivey 40 years
John W.Johnson Jr. 40 years
Deildra Joyner 40 years
George "Pee-Wee" Lorrison 40 years
Mike Melago 40 years
Ron Nelson 40 years
Carol Porter 40 years
Eddie "EJ" Raiford 40 years
David Roane 40 years
John Spence 40 years
Rickie Stith 40 years
Ocie "O.S." Stokes 40 years
Rick Trussell 40 years
David "Bro" Waff 40 years
Raymond Watson 40 years
Johnnie Welch 40 years
Jim Westphal 45 years
Long Service February 45 Years William D. Causey O43 William T. Moody X11 James M. Westphal X31 40 Years William T. Artis X18 Leroy Bell X33 Samuel A. Bent III O37 Moses Brown X11 Leaster M. Brown Jr. X36 Ora M. Council O53 Dennis M. Crump X11 Marion W. Davis X36 Walter H. Day X11 Alvin L. Eason X31 Kevin B. Forrest X32 Leary C. Futrell X11 John M. Giles X70 Sharon C. Harris X11 Ray L. Ivey X11 John W. Johnson Jr. O54 Deildra R. Joyner O53 George W. Lorrison X43 Elmer Lundy M53
Michael T. Melago X87 Ronald L. Nelson X75 Carol B. Porter X18 Eddie J. Raiford X11 David H. Roane O43 John W. Spence Jr. E81 Rickie Stith X67 Ocie S. Stokes X31 Harold E. Trussell X58 David M. Waff X11 Donald E. Watkins Jr. X31 Raymond L. Watson X11 Johnnie R. Welch O58 35 Years Neil M. Addesso E65 Robert A. Bolden X80 Brian J. Cooper O51 Glenn T. Hicks M40 Steven C. Jones O31 Anthony L. Kraus O22 Michael L. Scarberry X57 30 Years Larry D.Bazemore X11
Jimmie L. Bean X53 Russell D. Blanchard X10 David P. Bradley E51 Stanley C. Britt X18 Charles A. Bufalino O53 Robert J. Burns X42 Charles R. Butler X43 Ricky A. Crist O39 Deborah K. Flanagan O53 Leo M. Geiger O46 Myrtie E. Hayes X70 Thomas W. Hayes X31 William L. Hayes Jr. E22 Timothy L. Hersom E83 Zelma B. Johnson-Haskins O46 Kenneth R. Jones X31 Daryl J. Kahle E43 William H. Kirkland Jr. E14 Gerald L. Palmer X32 Michael P. Payne X11 Virginia L. Routten K93 Jennings S. Rowe Jr. X80 Richard F. Sherman O46 John P. Steiger O57 Angela R. Tisdale O57
David B .Turner E81 Thomas C. Venable O39 Robert A. Weinmann E82 25 Years Joel H. Arrington E38 Gabrielle P. Axley O94 Ronald R. Bailey E82 Darryl E. Best X70 Kenny S. Blizzard X18 Marvin E. Bowman E81 Glenn M. Bradshaw X32 Kenneth A. Burgess O53 Cassandra K. Burks O26 Dexter T. Bush X10 Edwin M. Butler E85 Alvey B. Collins Jr. O46 Marlon L. Crowder E83 Michael F. Damato E86 Todd C. Davis X71 Johnnie Dickens X36 Beverly T. Dixon X33 George A. Easley Jr. E72 Wilbert L. Elliott Jr. O39 Randall W. Gabbert O37
Jeffrey S. Garrison T55 Robert G. Graham E80 Ronald Graves X88 Terry L. Hinton M53 Anna M. Hornsby E65 Victor D. Jackson X18 Douglas A. Jay E25 Vernell Jones Jr. X11 Joseph D. Jordan X11 Ronald D. Jordan X36 Troy A. Joyner X11 Quintin D. Lassiter E85 Michael K. Lawrence X11 Ronnie Legette X32 John A. Lemmon O51 David F. MacAdam E85 Johnnie W. Mayo E85 Alige R. McAllister X11 Kenneth T. Meyers E82 Christine Mitchell X32 Leroy S. Price O37 Mark B. Richards E75 Annie L. Ricks X33 Kenneth M. Russ E34 Karen A. Sikes T52
Scott F. Spangler X82 Angela H. Speight K07 Robert C. Staten X71 Gregory J. Stewart X36 Silvia I. Thomas O21 Donna G. Vidana E82 Michael L. Wallace O43 Brian K. Warthan O19 Thomas H. Waters O53 Aubrey White X33 Lawrence E. Williams Jr. X18 James K. Wood E75 20 Years Jose M. Aranas O43 W. T. Cook X31 Arthur A. Fladger X73 Vernon B. Goodson O43 Dennis M. Hill X31 William H. Hunter Jr. X89 Donald L. Jones X42 John R. Miller X42 Eddie M. Parker X36 Dawit L.Yosief X31
Retirements January Thomas H. Krupa X83 Sharon C. Morris O14 Cheryl Goodman O16
Peggy L. Cox O46 Aaron W. Bradley X36 Craig D. Jacox O53
Jarvis J. Bowser X42 Lois Purdie X33 James E. Jones Jr. X33
Johnsie L. Spruiel O16 John W. Tardy III X88 William E. Lane X11
Alfred B. Barber Jr. X33 Ellis L. Wasserman X36
*Correction: Willie Wright Jr. E84 did not retire in Dec. 2012
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, Troy Cooper, Mike Dillard, Christie Miller, Eugene Phillips, LaMar Smith, Peter Stern, Susan Sumner and Lauren Ward. Editorial assistance from Kew Publications and additional writing services by Barlow Communications. Photographs by: Chris Oxley, Ricky Thompson and John Whalen Send comments, questions and story ideas to Yardlines editor: email@example.com or call 757-380-2627. To stop receiving Yardlines, go to nns.huntingtoningalls.com/Yardlines to unsubscribe. Look for more news at nns.huntingtoningalls.com.
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SSN 787 Named
On Feb. 7, the Navy and the State of Washington celebrated the naming of the Virginia-class Submarine Washington (SSN 787). Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (left) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the people of Seattle and discussed the special bond between a state and its namesake vessel. Washington will be the 7th Virginia-class submarine delivered by Newport News Shipbuilding, following the delivery of John Warner (SSN 785). U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ahron Arendes