NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side got a look at the old Lambert’s Point Docks property, as it has transformed into the new Norfolk campus of Newport News Shipbuilding.
Aircraft carriers are at the center piece of a lot of what our Navy does, so that’s why these investments are so important for Hampton Roads.
Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding said they’re busier than they’ve been over the past four decades at their Newport News campus, and that’s why this Norfolk campus is so important, because it allows them to expand outside their gates of Newport News.
“The importance of our aircraft carriers and what you all do here and our Navy’s ability to project power from five acres of sovereign U.S. territory anywhere in the world has never been more clear,” said Rear Admiral Casey Moton.
Moton said there are currently four aircraft carriers deployed right now, including the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, both operating together in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
“Aircraft carriers are the center piece of a lot of what our navy does,” Moton said. “They’re out everyday on the front for the nation, bringing incredible capability and anything that we can do that enables us to build them quickly and with more capacity and more efficiently is important.”
Newport News Shipbuilding employees have worked at the Lambert’s Point site for several months constructing steel panels that will eventually make up units of the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 80).
The 100-acre property owned by Norfolk Southern is being leased by Fairwinds Landing LLC. HII Newport News Shipbuilding’s new neighbor, Fairlead Boatworks, is assisting with the construction of the base units, which founder and CEO Jerry Miller calls the Lego blocks of an aircraft carrier.
“You need to have a bunch of those blocks ready,” Miller said, “and so we are building those blocks with them and giving them the space to do it.”
Miller said when they realized Newport News Shipbuilding was running out of space, they offered up some of theirs.
“This was an underutilized facility and Norfolk Southern didn’t really know what to do with it,” Miller said, “so I think we are putting it to good use.”
The space will also be used for off-shore wind operations.
Right now HII works with about 70 suppliers based in Norfolk. They say supplier spending in the past few years in the city was upwards of more than $309 million.
“Having operations here in Norfolk allows us to expand what we are already doing in the community,” said Newport News Shipbuilding Vice President for Enterprise (CVN 80), Doris Miller (CVN 81) and future aircraft carrier programs Les Smith.
Smith said this new space allows for much needed growth and expansion to the Southside. Smith says they are at capacity in Newport News.
“As Virginia’s largest industrial employer, we recognize that we can make a difference in our community,” said Smith. “This new Norfolk campus will help us grow our business and positively impact Hampton Roads.”
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander called it “a testament of strength of our local workforce.”
HII says about 1,000 employees live on the Southside, so they’re hoping the shorter commutes will help improve quality of life too.
“Those who are building our ships are a key part of the team, so I think that we are able to expand capacity,” Moton said, “and also make it easier for our employees who work in this area with shorter commutes and good parking. It’s good not only for them, but hopefully it will attract more people to the shipbuilding business to join this effort.”
Smith said they’re starting with about 20 employees working on the Norfolk campus. They hope to have 150 by the end of next year.
Huntington Ingalls is hiring, for more information, click here.