Thank you, Jennifer… And good evening, everyone!
Shipbuilders, family members, friends, and most importantly, our Master Shipbuilders.
Tonight is YOUR night to sit back, relax and be so very proud of your accomplishments. Because—for the last four decades—or more—you have walked through the gates of Newport News Shipbuilding on a mission…
A mission to build our nation’s greatest warships that protect our sailors and defend our freedom. You do it with unwavering precision and care
And you do it with heart.
We gather to celebrate you…and to honor the hard work, perseverance and dedication that has earned you the Master Shipbuilder distinction.
For the family members and friends who are here tonight, Master Shipbuilders are Newport News Shipbuilding heroes. They are our institutional knowledge, our experience and our greatest mentors.
Master Shipbuilders are the Cal Ripkens of shipbuilding.
For those of you who are baseball fans like me, you know that Cal Ripken is best known as the Baltimore Orioles short stop who holds the record for the most consecutive baseball games ever played. He did not miss one game in over 16 years, breaking Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 games played.
Master Shipbuilders demonstrate that same level of commitment. They get out of bed every morning—whether it’s raining, snowing, and even when the heat is unbearably hot—to answer a calling.
Shipbuilding is not just a job—It’s a calling.
It gets in your blood.
And you know that with every wire you run, and every seam you weld—you are making a difference in the life of a sailor, and ultimately, in the defense of our freedoms. You make your mark, not just on the ships you are building but on the future shipbuilders you are helping to mold.
And this couldn’t be any more important than it is right now. Newport News Shipbuilding is experiencing unprecedented growth.
For the first time in more than a decade, all of our available dry docks are full and for the first time in a decade we have an actual approved defense budget!
We are working at a time when a new workforce, new technology and increased Navy needs come together all at once. This perfect storm is demanding change in how we’ve always done things.
And as we bring in a new generation of shipbuilders and embark on this new way of thinking and working, your role is even more important. Because we cannot move into these unchartered waters without knowing—and understanding—from where we have come.
You are our shipbuilding All Stars
And when you leave here tonight, I hope it is abundantly clear how much you are valued.
In fact, like our ships, you are all national treasures…because your skill and your expertise are what define Newport News Shipbuilding. And nobody can do what we can do. Nobody!
Now, I’d like to ask every Master Shipbuilder here tonight to please stand for a very well-deserved round of applause.
I’d also like to take a moment to shine the spotlight on the people who have worked behind the scenes…Who have sat on the sidelines, providing the support and cheerleading that we all need to succeed. Would all of our Master Shipbuilders’ guests and loved ones please stand and be recognized.
Master Shipbuilders, we know that like Cal Ripken, you will one day make the decision to end your career and enter retirement.
You will make the decision on your own terms, just like Cal, with determination and strength. And like the baseball legend, you will leave behind a lasting legacy.
Until then, our “rookies” will continue to lean on you and learn from you… And I ask that you take every opportunity to pay that knowledge forward and continue to learn.
On behalf of the entire senior leadership team and the more than 20,000 shipbuilders who look up to you, congratulations on this wonderful accomplishment!
It has been my absolute honor to be here tonight with each and every one of you.
Now, it is my pleasure to introduce what has become a highlight of this annual event. And you are in for a real treat!
Sit back, relax, and enjoy a video commemorating 1978 – the year our new Master Shipbuilders first walked through our gates.
So without any further ado, let’s roll the video…