NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Sept. 5, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) today hosted U.S. Reps. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas; Bobby Scott, D-Va.; Randy Forbes, R-Va.; Rob Wittman, R-Va.; and Scott Rigell, R-Va., for a tour of the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division. The tour gave the Virginia statesmen the opportunity to introduce Thornberry to their shipbuilding constituents and get a behind-the-scenes look at the defense industrial base.
Accompanied by Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin, the congressmen got an in-depth look at aircraft carrier and submarine construction, including a tour of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and a look at ROVR (rapid operational virtual reality), a tool used to increase construction efficiencies.
The tour also included a pierside briefing on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) to discuss the ship's refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) as well as a brief tour of the supplemental modular outfitting facility (SMOF), a new building used to support the two-per-year construction of Virginia-class submarines.
During a press conference after the tour, Mulherin thanked the congressmen for visiting and introduced Thornberry, who called the shipyard a "national treasure."
"It is invaluable for somebody like me to come and get a better feel for what it takes to build these enormously sophisticated, enormously capable ships that are so central to our country's security," Thornberry said. "Naval ships equal U.S. presence around the world. There is currently some question about our leadership in the world—our presence around the world. I think part of the answer is we have to put more ships in the water."
As vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Thornberry helps allocate and oversee funding for the Department of Defense, the Armed Forces and portions of the Department of Energy.
Following Thornberry's remarks, Wittman underscored the role Newport News plays in the nation's naval presence. "As we know, the strategic importance of the shipyard cannot be underemphasized or overemphasized," he said. "It is critical to our nation; it is critical to our Navy. We saw today the great capabilities that are here, and we see, too, the importance of naval presence. We see the importance of a robust shipbuilding program as well as the naval fleet and what that brings to our nation."
Scott explained the importance of a stable defense budget and how sequestration, and the unpredictability it brings, impacts the shipyard. "The shipyard has, over the years, gotten this down to a fine science where the work is predictable, the subcontractors know exactly when the work is supposed to be coming in, and it's important that we get this message to all of the members of the House so they don't get the idea to just skip an aircraft carrier or just delay it six months. … Actually you're wreaking havoc with the schedule and adding cost to the next submarine or aircraft carrier."
Forbes said the Navy's shipbuilding plan calls for 274 ships in the fleet in 2015. "If we get to 260 ships, we cease to be a superpower, and we become a regional power," he said. "We want to turn that curve around, and we are glad that Mac [Thornberry] is down here helping us to turn it around."
About Huntington Ingalls
Huntington Ingalls Industries designs, builds and manages the life-cycle of the most complex nuclear and conventionally-powered ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. For more than a century, HII’s Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder. HII also provides engineering and project management services expertise to the commercial energy industry, the Department of Energy and other government customers. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs more than 39,000 people operating both domestically and internationally. For more information, visit: