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Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs nearly 37,000 people throughout 35 U.S. states and 11 countries. Te motto at HII is Hard Stuff Done Right™, and it’s difficult to argue when you look at the specifics: over 130 years of building the most complex ships on Earth; annual revenues of approximately $7 billion; sole builder of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and one of two builders of nuclear-powered submarines; exclusive provider of refueling services for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers; largest industrial employer in Virginia and Mississippi; builder of more than 70 percent of U.S. Navy warship fleet; employer of approximately 5,000 engineers and designers.


“Big Blue” offers a unique view of John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) units on the Final Assembly Platen.


In January of this year, HII announced that Newport had lifted a 704-metric-ton unit into its Dry Dock 12, where the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is taking shape. Te superlift was part of an improved build strategy implemented on the second ship of the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) class, resulting in superlifts erected at a higher state of outfitting completion. Like the Ford, the Kennedy is being built using modular


construction, a process whereby smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form large structural units, equipment is installed, and the large units are lifted into the dry dock using the shipyard’s 1,050-metric-ton gantry crane. Designed to save the Navy $4 billion in total ownership


cost over its 50-year lifespan, the Kennedy is about 25 percent complete—on track to finish with 445 lifts, which is 51 fewer than Ford. About 140 lifts have been placed in the dock and joined together since the ship’s keel was laid in August 2015 (the first piece of steel was cut in 2011). Te Kennedy is scheduled to be launched in 2020 and delivered to the Navy in 2022, when it will replace the USS Nimitz (CVN 68). “When you look at some of the Asian and European


yards, there are certainly yards building large ships well, with technology and innovation,” said Mike Butler, CVN 79 program director, “but we’re the only yard that builds nuclear-powered ships. Tat’s the major difference between what we do and what some of the larger commercial yards around the world do.”


“THE 450 OR SO LIFTS THEY’LL PERFORM ON THE KENNEDY PROJECT REPRESENT A MERE SLIVER OF THE APPROXIMATELY 955,000 LIFTS THEY’LL EXECUTE ACROSS THE ENTIRE COMPANY THIS YEAR.”


Photo by Chris Oxley courtesy of HHI. Newport News Shipbuilding (Newport News,


VA), a division of HII, comprises 550 acres and about 20,000 employees (many of whom represent third- and fourth-generation shipbuilders), and focuses on nuclear- powered aircraft carriers and submarines, overhaul, repair, maintenance, and fleet support. Newport News (Newport) has designed, constructed, overhauled, and repaired more than 800 ships for the U.S. Navy, as well as commercial customers.


24 DECEMBER – JANUARY 2018 INDUSTRIAL LIFTING EXCHANGE


A Challenge From Day One When Butler and his team at Newport got the contract for the Kennedy, it boasted a budget that was about 20 percent less than the Ford. “When we started out looking at how we would build the ship twenty percent cheaper—which is an unprecedented challenge in shipbuilding—we realized that we’d have to do things very differently,” he noted. “So we’re trying to build superlifts that are much larger than in the past, and much more outfitted. Looking back to CVN 77, which was the last of the Nimitz class—it took about six hundred dock lifts (superlifts) to erect the ship. On CVN 78, we got that down to about five hundred units. And on this one, we’re down to about four hundred and forty-five lifts. Same amount of steel—same basic ship—we’re just building it in larger sections and we’re doing more pre- outfitting before we actually put the superlifts in dock.” Geoff Hummel, CVN 79 construction director,


emphasized the amount of time and thinking that went into making this particular project better, more efficient, and ultimately, more cost-efficient. “If there was a simple way to


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