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Huntington Ingalls Industries awarded $14.9B to build two aircraft carriers

By Allen Cone
Huntington Ingalls Industries awarded $14.9B to build two aircraft carriers
This is an artist's rendering of the future USS Enterprise. Image courtesy U.S. Defense Department/Wikimedia Commons

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries was awarded a $15.2 billion contract to build two Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers at its Newport News Shipbuilding division in Virginia.

Included in the contract is $263 million for modifications required to integrate Mk 38 gun systems, F-35C Lightning II stealth fighters and MQ-25 Stingray Unmanned Aircraft Systems, the Air Force announced Thursday.

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The Enterprise, the third ship in the Ford class, is scheduled to be delivered in 2028 and the unnamed CVN 81 will be delivered in 2032, the company and Air Force announced.

Another USS Enterprise, the the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the eighth United States naval vessel to bear the name, was decommissioned in February 2017 after 55 years of service.

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Construction of the new Enterprise, which will replace the Nimitz-class USS Eisenhower, began in 2017. CVN 81 will replace the USS Carl Vinson.

Nimitz carriers have served the U.S. Navy for more than 40 years.

Other Ford-class carriers being built are the USS Ford and John F. Kennedy.

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"Today's announcement is a triumphant step toward returning to a 12-ship aircraft carrier fleet and building the 355-ship Navy our nation needs," Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport Shipbuilding in Virginia, said in a statement. "Most importantly for us, it provides stability into the year 2032 for our workforce and for our supplier businesses across the United States."

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More than 2,000 suppliers in 46 states will work with Huntington Ingalls, the largest military shipbuilding company in the United States. Sixty-two percent of the work will be performed in Newport News.

Huntington Ingalls will be investing in facilities and continuing digital transformation efforts.

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"This contract award is something we should celebrate, and it is also something we should never take for granted," Boykin said. "We have the responsibility to leverage the investments we are making in our workforce, the facility and in digital shipbuilding to become smarter, better, stronger. It is more important than ever that we execute efficiently and transform our business operations so that we leave a lasting legacy of our own."

The current contract for advance procurement-funded efforts has been in place since 2016 for advance fabrication of the Enterprise.

Naval fiscal 2018 and 2019 shipbuilding and conversion funding, as well as fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $889.8 million will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

"History has its eyes on Newport News Shipbuilding, and today is a great reminder that we are all part of something much greater than ourselves," Boykin said. "I could not be more proud of our shipbuilders and excited for our future."

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The contract was not competitively procured because only Huntington Ingalls satisfied agency requirements.

"Today marks a great team effort to drive out cost and maximize efficiency in government procurement," Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a statement. "One contract for construction of the two ships will enable the shipbuilder flexibility to best employ its skilled workforce to design once and build twice for unprecedented labor reductions while providing stability and opportunities for further efficiencies within the nuclear industrial base."

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