Newport News Shipbuilding expands to Norfolk
Satellite campus is at Fairwinds Landing
With the largest workload it’s had in four decades, Newport News Shipbuilding has had to get creative about how to use the limited footprint at its shipyard in Newport News.
So when an opportunity to set up a second campus not far away — on the other side of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, in Norfolk — popped up, the wheels started turning.
The shipyard, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries that employs about 25,000 people, has started production at a satellite campus at Fairwinds Landing in Norfolk to support its main shipyard.
The Norfolk campus of NNS will span eight acres at Fairwinds Landing, a new maritime operations and logistics hub supporting Hampton Roads’ offshore wind, defense and transportation industries. Fairwinds Landing is located at Lambert’s Points Docks across from Portsmouth Marine Terminal and is a joint venture between The Miller Group, Balicore Construction and Fairlead Integrated. Norfolk Southern owns the property.
“HII’s continued investment in our community is a testament of the strength of our local workforce,” Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander said during an event at Fairwinds Landing on Monday to celebrate the satellite’s opening.
For the past few months, about 20 shipyard workers have been constructing steel panels that will make up units on the future USS Enterprise, the third ship in the Navy’s Gerald R. Ford class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
By the end of the year, the campus expects to have 80 employees, and next year it will grow to 150, said Les Smith, vice president of the Enterprise and Doris Miller aircraft carrier programs. Doris Miller is the Navy’s fourth ship in its Ford class. The Enterprise and Doris Miller are under construction at the shipyard, which is the country’s only builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
So far, Newport News Shipbuilding has invested about $25 million, but NNS is going to work with the Navy to look for opportunities for future expansion. That could be upwards of $100 million over a five-year period, Smith said.
Though panels for the Enterprise will be produced and stored at Fairwinds Landing, the satellite campus will help free up space at the shipyard’s main campus to support other programs, such as nuclear-powered submarine production. Shipyard executives say they have not ruled out the idea of expanding the campus at Fairwinds Landing.
Workers demonstrated moving one of the panels Monday at Fairwinds Landing. It weighs 8,200 pounds and is 3/8 of an inch thick.
It’s the first time NNS has set up a satellite campus of this kind.
“There is a great need right now,” Smith said. “We’ve got more work than we’ve had over the last four decades … we’ve got 20 ships and boats at the shipyard right now in some form, being built or repaired. So the more that we can expand and augment our footprint frees up our footprint there for other work to be done. So, this is innovation. This is an opportunity for us to think outside the transactional box that we have done in the past and s that’s why we’re starting here …We’re two months into this process now.”
Smith noted that the shipyard already works with about 70 suppliers based in Norfolk and has spent upwards of $309 million in the city during the past five years.
“The new Norfolk campus will help us to grow our business and positively impact Hampton Roads,” he said.
Fairwinds Landing is making waves in its own right, and the addition of NNS is bolstering its early success.
Last week, Norfolk’s Economic Development Authority learned it will receive $39.2 million in federal funding to assist in transforming the property into an offshore wind logistics facility.
The funding was awarded through the Port Infrastructure Development Program of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The EDA jointly submitted the application. The funding will assist in financing the restoration of the aging waterfront infrastructure.
Fairwinds Landing in June broke ground on its Monitoring and Coordination Center, an offshore wind energy monitoring and coordination facility occupying 7.5 acres. The MCC will include two buildings — a 31,167-square-foot operations and maintenance center and a 17,280-square-foot warehouse. The operations center will be used by Dominion Energy to monitor maritime activities, analyze asset performance, provide strategic planning and ensure regulatory compliance around the Richmond-based Fortune 500 utility’s $9.8 billion Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project under development off the coast of Virginia Beach.
It has deep-water access to the Elizabeth River and is across from Portsmouth Marine Terminal. Expected to be completed in 2025, the MCC is expected to support more than 200 construction and engineering jobs. Dominion Energy has 45 shore-based personnel there and more than 60 vessel-based personnel who will be deployed to the offshore wind farm, which is expected to start construction in May and wrap up in 2026.
Newport News-based Huntington Ingalls Industries, the parent company of Newport News Shipbuilding, is the largest industrial employer in Virginia and the nation’s largest military shipbuilder. The Fortune 500 company employs more than 44,000 workers. Newport News Shipbuilding plans to expand its workforce to 28,000 during the next decade.