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Newport News Shipbuilding notes moves to stabilise nuclear naval work

Newport News Shipbuilding is looking to stabilise submarine construction in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. (Janes/Michael Fabey)

Acknowledging that they are still dealing with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic-related effects, inflation, and supply issues, officials at HII's Newport News Shipbuilding division say they are taking measures to stabilise their US nuclear submarine and aircraft construction programmes.

“It's a complex problem,” Jason Ward, Newport News Shipbuilding vice-president, Virginia-class submarine construction, said on 5 May at the company's Virginia shipyard in an advance interview of the 6 May christening of the Block IV Virginia-class attack submarine USS Massachusetts (SSN 798).

“The Virginia-class cadence has not executed [as planned],” Ward said. “We are working to stabilise and accelerate [construction].

Newport News Shipbuilding and submarine-building partner General Dynamics Electric Boat have been collaborating with the US Navy (USN) for service plans to get boat-building plan back on track, according to Ward.

“There is alignment between shipbuilders and [the] navy what that recovery looks like,” he said.

To help with that stabilisation and acceleration, the yard is looking to develop better training to increase the proficiency of workforce and seeking to improve resiliency in the supplier base, Ward said.

The shipyard is also looking at “leveraging … state-of-the-art technology” such as additive manufacturing, Ward said, having received the first authorisation from US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) for the additive manufacturing procurement of several alloys for components of aircraft carrier construction.

“We're working with the navy programme office to [ascertain] what subcomponents we can look to, to leverage that,” Ward said.

Some of the components the shipyard is focusing on concern items critical for construction sequence.

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