WASHINGTON (WAVY) — The U.S. Navy has signed a contract to build two new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers.
It’s good news for Hampton Roads — the only place in the country that builds carriers is the shipyard of Newport News Shipbuilding.
CVN 80, already slated to be named USS Enterprise, and 81 will bring the total number of carriers to 12, as part of the Navy’s goal to reach 355 ships.
The announcement of the $14.9 billion contract came Thursday from the office of local congressman Rob Wittman, who sits on the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
Today the @USNavy finally secured a two-carrier block buy for CVN 80 & 81, further advancing their efforts to build to a fleet of 12 aircraft carriers and 355 ships. Leading this provision through my subcommittee, the NDAA as a conferee, and on the House floor has been an honor. pic.twitter.com/V5U7apVFQG— Rep. Rob Wittman (@RobWittman) January 31, 2019
And that means job security for at least the next decade, Wittman says.
By signing a deal to build two carriers, legislators say it will also save taxpayers about $4 billion.
The contract guarantees a single technical baseline for both ships, according to a release from the Navy. The shipyard will only have to do expensive and time consuming engineering and design work once.
“What a great day this is for Newport News Shipbuilding and Hampton Roads,” said Jennifer Boykin, President of Newport News Shipbuilding. “It’s tremendous pride for the shipbuilders to know that the Navy recognizes the talent we bring and that this is a powerful class of ships that are key to the Navy’s needs.”
The ships will be delivered 4-years apart, according to Boykin meaning there will not be much downtime.
“Part of the big challenge is to continue to get the talent into the workforce, that we do a good job of training them and keeping them safe,” Boykin said.
Steel has already been cut for CVN 80, however the shipyard is still currenlty working on CVN 79 USS John F. Kennedy.
USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 80) is the third ship of the Ford-Class and will replace the USS Eisenhower (CVN 69). CVN 81, will replace the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), according to the Navy.
Boykin estimates the CVN 81 could be completed in 2032
Local representatives Donald McEachin (VA-04), Bobby Scott (VA-03), Rob Wittman (VA-01), and Elaine Luria (VA-02) issued a statement on the announcement:
“Today’s announcement that the Secretary of the Navy has signed the contract for a two-carrier buy is great news for the dedicated shipbuilders in Hampton Roads and the small business community across Virginia and the nation that support the construction of our carrier fleet. Carriers are deployed across the globe and are critical to our defense and national security. The dual buy finalized by the Navy today will save taxpayers’ money and bring stability and certainty to our shipbuilding industrial base. This will secure thousands of jobs for Virginians in the coming years.”